NORTH BRANCH, Minn. (WCCO) — A North Branch teenager recently had his own man-versus-beast encounter.
After attending a Supercross event on April 14, Kyler Burggraff dropped off his girlfriend and was heading home just after midnight. His sister was asleep in the back seat, and there was nothing in front of him but the open road of County Road 9.
That all changed in a split-second.
“Came around the corner and it popped out. Came out of nowhere…came running right at me,” Kyler said.
Not a deer or even a raccoon, but a 400 pound black bear.
He was driving a steady 60 miles an hour. Worried that swerving out of the way may cause his 2001 Pontiac Bonneville to lose control, so Kyler hit the bear head-on.
“I hit the brakes and grabbed both hands on the wheel. I had been driving with one hand so I grabbed on and braced for it. Just a huge boom forward, whiplash. I was just scared,” Kyler said.
Air bags flew open and the bear flew 20 feet across the road.
Kyler’s sister Kaitlyn said she was asleep and that her head hit the car seat during the crash.
Kyler and Kaitlyn were OK, but his car was not.
His Bonneville was totaled. But less than a week later he upgraded to a 2003 Bonneville.
“It’s got a leather interior, sun roof, and heated seats,” Kyler said.
Kyler knows he’s lucky no one was hurt. He got to keep the 7-foot black bear and plans on mounting the head and turning the pelt into a rug.
“He’s got a better car. Everything worked out for the better. He’s kind of a celebrity now with this story,” said mom, Kristina.
The DNR says it’s possible the bear had just woken up from hibernating and was looking for food.
Kyler said he does drive with a little more caution now, especially since his new car is an upgrade over his old one.