By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two friends from central Minnesota are on the mend after hitting a bear on a highway.

“My friend Tyler and I, we were going to hang out with our friend Sam,” Cynthia Thompson said.

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Thompson was looking forward to a Friday night with friends when plans got derailed.

“I remember being hit, I remember being whipped around the car. I was terrified,” she said. “I didn’t think that I was going to be OK. Like I literally thought that I was going to die.”

She and her friend Tyler were driving on Highway 25 headed to Brainerd. But on the way, they hit a bear in the dark of night.

“It came out of nowhere, like we didn’t even have time to stop. We hit it full on at 70 miles per hour,” Thompson said. “With that impact, it literally felt like we hit a brick wall.”

The car then rolled into a ditch, hitting trees along the way.

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(credit: CBS)

“I was able to follow my seatbelt, unbuckle myself and then I laid underneath Tyler, because Tyler had all the broken glass underneath him, I laid underneath Tyler and unbuckled him and let him land on me,” Thompson said.

Thompson and Tyler were able to crawl out of the back window and flag down a passing driver for help. Thompson went to the hospital by ambulance with Tyler by her side.

Responding law enforcement asked Thompson’s mom if she wanted to keep the dead bear. She said no.

“I didn’t get to see the bear personally, I didn’t want to see the bear, I wanted nothing to do with the bear,” she said. “It was my car that got totaled. I just bought that car two months ago, too, and I just made my second car payment to it.”

It’s a crash that could have been much worse, but is still hard to believe.

“He thought that we hit another car, I thought that we hit a deer,” Thompson said. “But we were both wrong.”

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Tyler is sore from the crash. Thompson has a minor concussion, a sprained ankle and is badly bruised.

Jeff Wagner