Pregnant woman hit by car while fleeing bear is OK
April 24, 2009
DENVER ” A pregnant woman who was fleeing from a bear when she was struck by a car said she will honor the animal she believes spared her life by giving her baby the middle name “Bear.”
Ashley Swendsen, 26, said she thinks the bear followed her more out of curiosity than malice because it kept a distance of about 10 feet the whole time she was running away from it at a hiking trail Thursday morning.
She said she thought at the time that “if it was going to hurt me, it already would’ve.”
“There’s no way I would’ve outran it,” Swendsen said.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife said the incident occurred in an open space area where bears are common on the northwest side of Colorado Springs. Division spokesman Michael Seraphin said the bear, a North American black bear, was tranquilized and later euthanized after Swendsen identified it.
Seraphin said the North American black bear is typically a timid species that runs away from trouble. But this particular bear, which was cinnamon-colored, showed it wasn’t afraid of humans when wildlife officials approached it, he said.
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Seraphin said Swendsen managed to scramble up an embankment and was crossing the street when she was hit by a slow-moving car. Although she was not seriously injured, she was taken to the hospital as a precaution because she is pregnant, said Terri Reishus, a Memorial Hospital spokeswoman.
Police said they’re looking for the driver of the car that hit Swendsen. They said the driver stopped and spoke to her but left before police arrived.
Swendsen said she first spotted the bear as it was coming out of a creek.
“I didn’t know what to do, so I just kept walking,” she said. “I wasn’t going to start sprinting.”
But she said she started running when she saw the bear was moving toward her.
Swendsen said she was saddened to hear about the bear’s death.
“Yeah, because the bear spared me, and then it had to die,” she said.
Swendsen, who is about five months pregnant, said she doesn’t know the sex of her baby but will give it the middle name “Bear” whether it’s a boy or a girl.