Driver recounts terrifying encounter with bear on GA 400

A woman is still feeling extremely shaken after her SUV collided with a large black bear that suddenly appeared in front of her on northbound Georgia 400 in Sandy Springs early Tuesday morning.

“It was a devastating crash,” recalls Helena Rocha, her voice filled with the weight of the experience. “In an instant, my seatbelt tightened and the car veered onto the shoulders. There was no way to escape it.”

Rocha expressed her astonishment at the swift movement of the bear. She was caught off guard by the presence of a bear on the road and couldn’t comprehend why it was behaving in such a manner.

Arriving at the scene, the Sandy Springs Police officer’s body camera captured the moment as he observed the bear lying lifeless behind the driver’s vehicle.

Sandy Springs Police Sgt. Leon Millholland reported that upon arrival at the scene, officers quickly moved the bear to a safe location on the side of the roadway and immediately contacted the DNR.

Deer vehicle crashes are a frequent occurrence in Georgia, with an estimated 40 to 50 thousand happening each year, according to the DNR. However, accidents involving bears are a rare sight. The bear involved in the Georgia 400 crash was estimated to weigh over 150 lbs.

According to Millholland, when a bear’s weight and mass collide with a windshield, it can result in a fatal accident. Bears tend to be territorial creatures, primarily staying within their designated areas. Unlike deer, who have a tendency to roam and venture onto roadways.

With summer on the horizon, wildlife authorities and law enforcement are warning that wild animals will become increasingly active in their search for food.

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MBS Staff
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