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SUV collides with 700+ pound black bear in SWVA

Wise County, VA (WJHL)- Two people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries Thursday after a bear collided with their SUV in Wise County, Virginia.

Assistant Sheriff Grant Kilgore with the Wise County, Virginia Sheriff's Office said the accident happened Thursday around 8p.m. on Route 23 near Hoot Owl Hollow, that's not far from Norton.

According to Kilgore the SUV collided with a black bear that weighed more than 700 pounds.

He said the black bear was gravely injured during the crash and died at the scene.

Two people were in the SUV at the time of the crash and they were both taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Saturday night we spoke with Maria Stidham of Big Stone Gap, she told us she was one of the people inside the SUV during the crash.

Stidham telling us over the phone she felt like the bear came out of nowhere.

"I think about deer on that road, but I've never gave it a second thought about a bear...we hit that bear and it was almost like hitting a block wall, we came to a complete standstill," Stidham said.

Stidham said she's grateful that she was able to survive the crash.  

The car was totaled according to police, and the damage was estimated to be around $12,000.

"I hurt my left leg, I have airbag burns on my face...but I'm thankful that we survived it and we were able to walk away. 

The Commonwealth Conservation Police were contacted because the owner of the vehicle requested to take possession of the bear, and Kilgore said that request was granted. 

Stidham also told us that according to Virginia Game officials the bear weighed 792 pounds, and that in the coming weeks officials said they would be working to confirm if this breaks the record for the largest black bear found in the state of Virginia.

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