Two people were killed Monday when a car struck a bear on a rural Quebec highway and sent the animal crashing into a second vehicle.
A Pontiac Sunfire travelling east slammed into a black bear at about 10:30 p.m. on Highway 148, near the town of Luskville, said the local police from MRC des Collines.
The 200-kilogram bear was thrown into the air and struck a black SUV travelling in the opposite direction, police said. The bear smashed through the SUV's front windshield and out the back window.
The driver of the SUV, a 25-year-old Ottawa woman, was pronounced dead at the scene, along with a 40-year-old Gatineau man later identified as Steven Leon, who was sitting in the seat behind her. The woman's name has not yet been released.
Her 28-year-old boyfriend, sitting in the front of the SUV, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Hull Hospital. The two male occupants of the Pontiac Sunfire were not hurt.
On Tuesday, investigators ruled out alcohol as a factor in the crash, which happened about 40 kilometres northwest of Ottawa. They were still trying to determine other details.
Police believe the car, which was lower to the ground than the SUV and had a more aerodynamic design, must have thrust the bear — a male, or boar — up into the air and into the other lane.
"The SUV, being larger, would have driven right into the path of the bear as it was coming down," Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco of CBC News Ottawa reported from the scene.
Mating, hunting seasons
MRC des Collines spokesman Const. Martin Fournel said it is unusual to see bears wandering onto the streets, although deer sightings are not unheard of.
"Obviously, it's something really rare," he said. "We don't see that often, even if we live in the country. Lots of deer, but collisions with a bear and two people died? That's really rare."
Daniel Larocque, a local hunting guide, warned other drivers to be careful during bear-mating season. Larocque said he struck a small female bear just last week.
"What happens is the big boars like the one that was hit last night, these guys are roaming a little bit out of their territory to go look for sows in heat," Larocque said.
Nearby residents also suggested that bear-baiting stations placed close to the highways during the hunting season may be luring the bears to the roads.