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Driver saddened after hitting bear

Denise Dutra said she was changing lanes to let another car pass when she struck and killed a 300-pound bear.

It happened after sunset Tuesday night on Highway 154 near Rancho San Marcos golf course.

Dutra was driving her 81-year-old mother’s new Toyota Rav-4. Her mother had recently renewed her license and bought the car in Goleta.

Mother and daughter were headed to the Chumash casinos to play some slots, instead their car was totaled by the impact.

A passerby told them not to get out of the car in case the bear was still alive.

But it did not survive.

The windows were smashed and they had to crawl out the back of the totaled SUV.

A Highway Patrol officer told Dutra she did the right thing by not swerving.

Dutra said she slammed on the brakes but it was too late.

California Fish & Wildlife warden Jamie Dostal said the full grown California black bear was probably looking for food and water.


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