Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Black bear dies after run-in with ambulance near Weeki Wachee

WEEKI WACHEE — Chris Fowler was rushing in his ambulance to a medical call when a black blur appeared in the corner of his eye.

"All I saw was a shadow come right out of the woods," said Fowler, 31, an emergency medical technician for Hernando County Fire Rescue "It was moving quick and looked like either a really big black Lab or a small bear."

It turned out to be the wilder of the two.

A roughly 225 pound male black bear ran into the side of the ambulance about 6:20 p.m. Monday as Fowler and his partner were heading east on Cortez Boulevard between Shoal Line Boulevard and U.S. 19.

Fowler stopped and dispatchers sent another unit to his call. The force of the impact ripped part of the ambulance's front fender away and dented the side step and patient cabin.

The bear hobbled off into a nearby marshy area and died before a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission arrived.

The animal likely would have been euthanized, said Chad Allison, a district biologist with the commission.

"When wildlife are injured to the point that they're not able to seek shelter or escape, they're in a condition that doesn't support rehabilitation," he said.

A commission biologist measured the bear and took a hair sample before burying the animal in the nearby Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, Allison said. The bear appeared to not be fully grown and likely was a member of the Chassahowitzka population.

With 25 bears at most, it's the smallest in the state and maybe in the country, Allison said. The bears generally roam from Crystal River in Citrus County to Aripeka on the Pasco-Hernando line, so they regularly cross the stretch of Cortez where Monday's collision happened, he said. A female bear was killed by a car there about six years ago.

"It's not good, but I'd be a lot more saddened if it had been a female," Allison said. "It's the females that produce the cubs."

Reach Tony Marrero at or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Black bear dies after run-in with ambulance near Weeki Wachee 07/09/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 8:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In a word, Hernando school leaders say, first day was 'smooth'


    Over and over on Monday, school district leaders used the same word to describe the unfolding of the first day of school in Hernando County.


    Third-graders Teagan Ferguson, left, and Brianna DeLaine deliver attendance figures to the office at J.D. Floyd Elementary School on Monday. Superintendent Lori Romano and other district administrators toured a handful of schools and classrooms throughout the day,
  2. Rays morning after: 5 mistakes that led to loss to Blue Jays


    We've already documented elsewhere what the Rays didn't do, how they failed to take advantage of a prime opportunity to win Wednesday's game, getting just one run after loading the bases in the seventh with one out and three of …

  3. Unborn baby dies, two critically injured in Largo crash


    LARGO — Two people were critically injured and an unborn baby was killed in a crash that shut down an intersection on Ulmerton Road late Wednesday night, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  4. Forecast: Tampa Bay's workweek wraps up with more afternoon rain, hot temperatures


    After a few sporadic afternoon showers over the last few days, Tampa Bay will wrap up the workweek with some higher storm activity.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  5. Florida education news: Creaky air conditioning, hate speech, home visits and more


    OVERHEATED: Several Hillsborough County schools suffer air conditioning breakdowns during the first days of classes, and maintenance workers are striving to …

    Aging air conditioning is faltering at some Hillsborough County schools.