Car and bear tangle in Holt

Bearhit

Holt resident Marion Arnett hit a bear on Log Lake Road Sept. 5 (photo courtesy Patty Adams)

HOLT, Fla, Sept 12, 2017–Anyone who lives in Holt knows how dark Log Lake Road is at night.

One Holt resident found out that danger lurks just beyond the headlights.

Marion Arnett only got a glimpse just before hitting a bear that ran across the road in front of him as he was traveling north past the air strip on Log Lake Road Sept. 5 around 9:30 p.m.

He was life-flighted to the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center’s trauma care center with non-life threatening injuries.

Initial estimates of the damage to his 2014 Subaru Imprezza is $9,000.

The bear disappeared into the night with unknown injuries.

Split-second encounter

“A glimpse was all I got,” he said. “It happened in a split second.”

In that instant, Arnett knew it was a bear and not a deer or some other animal in his path.

“There’s no doubt it was a bear,” he said. The black hair embedded in the car was verification.

The impact set off the airbags in the car.

“It was like a shotgun blast,” he said.

Between the explosion and dust of the airbags, and the impact itself, Arnett was understandably disoriented.

The airbag deployment sent the steering wheel cover into his chest and parts of the dash down around his legs, bruising his shins.

“I couldn’t see where I was at,” he said. Once he got his bearings, he called 911 and his girlfriend, Patty Adams.

“When your boyfriend calls and says he hit a bear you should believe him,” wrote Adams on her Facebook page with photo and video of the wrecked Subaru.

Adams was first to reach Arnett, followed soon by Okaloosa County Emergency Medical Service, Holt Fire Department chief Scott Chestnut and the Florida Highway Patrol.

Because of the pain in his chest from the airbag impact, and not knowing if there were internal injuries, the decision was made to life-flight him to Fort Walton Beach.

By the time Arnett left the medical center later, he was being called “The Bear Slayer” by the medical staff who at first didn’t believe it was a bear, said Adams.

Arnett escaped his bear encounter with only bruising and soreness; however, it’s not something he wants to repeat.

“I don’t want to do that again,” he said.

Stephanie Holcombe

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