A firefighter in Bend, Oregon was enjoying an off-duty Saturday evening cruise on his motorcycle when he struck a large bear on U.S. Highway 26. The motorcycle and bear collided in the Warm Springs Indian Reservation throwing the motorcyclist into the path of an oncoming SUV.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Last night the Bend Fire Department suffered a tragic loss. Rhett Larsen, a BFD engineer was killed in an off duty traffic accident while traveling on HWY 26, he is survived by his family. <a href="https://t.co/KQrooPsdfi">pic.twitter.com/KQrooPsdfi</a></p>— Oregon Fire Fighters (@ORfirefighters) <a href="https://twitter.com/ORfirefighters/status/1003328137294331904?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 3, 2018</a></blockquote>
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The driver of the SUV was flown to the hospital with serious injuries but the firefighter did not survive, according to Oregon State Police. Emergency responders were called to milepost 80 on Highway 26 around 7 p.m. where a preliminary investigation revealed a Harley-Davidson motorcycle belonging to Rhett Larsen, 39, of Bend.
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Larsen was heading east when a large bear ran into his path. He was unable to avoid the bear and struck it in the eastbound lane but was thrown from the motorcycle and struck in the westbound lane by a Ford SUV pulling a utility trailer. The driver of the SUV was 57-year-old Margaret Sweo of Oregon City. Sweo was taken to the hospital with serious injuries and Larsen died at the scene.
A Life Flight helicopter took Sweo to the hospital while the investigation began at the scene of the accident. The highway was closed for nearly six hours and ODOT created a detour for travelers to use during the closure. The investigation is being conducted by the Warm Springs Police Department with aid from the ODOT.
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