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Motorcyclist unable to avoid bear on Highway 26 was thrown into traffic Saturday

A motorcyclist was killed in oncoming traffic after he was unable to avoid a bear on Highway 26 in Warm Springs on Saturday, June 2. The bear was also killed. The other driver was transported via Life Flight.

Oregon State Police responded to the multi-vehicle crash at milepost 80 at approximately 7 p.m. Saturday, according to a press release.

The preliminary investigation reveals that Rhett Larsen, 39, of Bend, was driving a motorcycle and traveling east on the highway, when a large bear ran into his path. He struck and killed the bear in the eastbound lane.

He was then thrown from his motorcycle and was struck by a westbound Ford SUV pulling a utility trailer driven by Margaret Sweo, age 57, from Oregon City, according to police. Sweo's vehicle traveled off the roadway and rolled onto its side. She was transported via Life Flight to a hospital.

Larsen suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene, per the press release.

The highway was closed for nearly six hours, police said.

Oregon Department of Transportation and Warm Springs Police assisted at the scene.

Kristen Wohlers
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