Teen hits 400-pound bear with car, totals vehicle

Driver and passenger escape accident unscathed

Kyler Burggraff hit a bear with his car on County Road 9 in Harris around midnight April 14. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources estimated the bear was around 400 pounds. Here, Kyler and sister Kaitlyn pose with the bear, which the Burggraffs brought back to their house after the accident.

Kyler Burggraff hit a bear with his car on County Road 9 in Harris around midnight April 14. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources estimated the bear was around 400 pounds. Here, Kyler and sister Kaitlyn pose with the bear, which the Burggraffs brought back to their house after the accident.

When 17-year-old Kyler Burggraff saw something big, black and hairy lumbering toward his car as he drove on County Road 9 in Harris around midnight April 14, he hardly had time to react.

The sizable beast coming toward his vehicle was a large, male black bear.

“I saw it just running at me, and I just kept both hands on the wheel and kept it straight,” Kyler Burggraff said. “There really wasn’t time to swerve.”

His 2001 Pontiac Bonneville plowed into the bear, knocking it into the ditch.

His sister, 13-year-old Kaitlyn Burggraff, was sleeping in the back seat at the time of the accident.

“I really didn’t know what happened,” she said, recalling that she slammed up against the headrest of one of the front seats when the vehicle collided with the bear.

The two siblings were returning home after dropping off Kyler’s girlfriend, Claire Peltier, at her home in Harris. They had spent the evening at an AMA Supercross event at the Metrodome with their father, Brian Burggraff.

After hitting the bear, the vehicle’s airbags deployed, leaving Kyler Burggraff with a bruised hand and sore neck. He exited the vehicle to check on his sister, who didn’t seem to have any visible injuries.

Kyler Burggraff then called 911, and an officer showed up at the accident about 10 minutes later. The officer checked the brother and sister for injuries, but they didn’t have any, other than the aforementioned bruising, Kyler Burggraff said.

The next call he made was to his girlfriend to tell her he and his sister were OK.

He then called his mother, Kristina Burggraff, who quipped that “I’ll harass him forever” about being the third person on his emergency call list. Kristina Burggraff received his call around 1:15 a.m.  — she, her sister and her mother were at Grand Casino Hinkley and still awake.

“As a parent, that’s the worst phone call ever,” Kristina Burggraff said. “I’m very happy nothing more severe happened.”

She and her husband got to the scene as quickly as they could, thankful that their children weren’t hurt. They were astounded at the size of the bear dead bear.

A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officer showed up at the accident site later and estimated the bear weighed around 400 pounds and was somewhere between 6 feet 6 inches tall and 7 feet tall. The DNR let the Burggraffs keep the bear, which they hauled back to their North Branch home in a trailer.

“It took three guys to get it into the trailer,” Kyler Burggraff said.

They butchered what they could of the bear — the meat at the torso of the bear was spoiled because of the damage sustained in the accident — but the Burggraffs were able to get 50 pounds of meat from the animal.

They also kept the head, which they’re going to make into a mount, and the bear’s pelt, which they’re thinking about making into a rug.

Kyler Burggraff’s auto insurance company said his car sustained about $7,000 worth of damage, and totaled the vehicle. He bought a 2003 Pontiac Bonneville about a week ago to replace his old one.

“It’s an upgrade,” he said with a smile.

Since the accident, the Burggraff children have become celebrities of sorts at school. Their classmates want to know about the accident and see pictures of the sizeable bear.

“I’m called ‘bear killer’ now,” Kyler Burggraff said.

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