Bear causes fatal crash on Hwy 26

WARM SPRINGS, Ore.– UPDATE: The Bend Fire Department announced on Sunday afternoon that the motorcyclist killed in a fatal crash was an engineer at the station.

Rhett Larsen, 39,  was killed in an off-duty vehicle accident involving a bear and another car.

The department, Local 227, released a statement on this tragic loss.

“Rhett was not only an exceptional firefighter, he was a loyal friend, respected mentor, and loving father. The loss of such a fun-loving, energetic soul is felt deeply by both the Bend Fire Department and the Bend community.”

Plans for Larsen’s service are still being arranged by the Oregon State Fire Fighters Council and Bend Firefighters.

Oregon State Police are investigating a fatal crash which is believed to be caused by a bear.

On Saturday around 7 p.m. OSP and emergency personnel responded to a call of a multi-vehicle crash on Hwy 26 near Warm Springs.

Preliminary investigations show motorcyclist, Rhett Larsen, 39, from Bend was traveling eastbound when a large bear appeared in the road. Unable to avoid the bear, Larsen struck the bear, killing it and caused himself to be thrown from his motorcycle.

He was then struck in the westbound lane by a Ford SUV pulling a utility truck causing the vehicle to go off the road and roll onto it’s side.

Larsen suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead on-scene.

The driver of the Ford, Margaret Sweo, 57, from Oregon City was transported to a hospital for injuries.

The roadway was closed for six hours with a detour in place.

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