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Bear gets stuck in car, goes on brief ride

By Phil Gast, CNN
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Bear breaks into car, goes on joyride
  • A bear spends more than two hours in a Colorado car
  • The Toyota rolled down the driveway with the bear inside
  • The animal trashes the vehicle's interior
  • Deputies freed it by tying a rope to the door handle and pulling it
  • Wildlife
  • Colorado

(CNN) -- If you think you've heard it all, follow this tale of a hungry black bear who went for a ride, literally.

Douglas County, Colorado, Sheriff's deputies early Friday got a call about a honking car and a commotion inside. Perhaps it was teenagers or a thief, they thought as they approached Ralph Story's 2008 Toyota Corolla.

It turns out it was a thief, albeit the furry variety.

The deputies' first clue to something unusual was that the car was 125 feet below its normal parking spot in the driveway of the Storys' Larkspur home, which sits on five acres.

Imagine their further surprise when they turned on their flashlights and got a peek inside.

It was a full-grown black bear, also known as ursus americanus.

The deputies had earlier received a call from a neighbor. She had heard honking and came up to the Story home, where the family was asleep.

"Our Toyota was making a heck of a racket and was rocking back and forth," Story said.

The neighbor called deputies shortly after 3 a.m., according to spokeswoman Michelle Rademacher of the sheriff's Department in the community 45 miles south of Denver.

Story told CNN the bear was probably drawn to a peanut butter sandwich left inside by his 17-year-old son Ben. He said the family didn't realize what was going on until deputies arrived and the neighbor came back and called them. By then the car was no longer in the driveway.

Incredulous, Story, his wife and three teen children -- who have lived in Larkspur for 17 years -- rushed outside to see the red Toyota down the hill and near a tree.

Somehow, the bear had either opened the unlocked back door or pushed a window down to get inside. Understandably agitated, it bumped into the horn repeatedly and eventually knocked the car's gear into neutral. The Toyota rolled down the hill. The door added to the bear's indignity by closing at some point during the ordeal.

A sergeant and two deputies who arrived on the scene "were stymied on how to proceed," Story said.

They considered a tranquilizer or shooting the bear, whose gender is unknown. "Public safety is our primary concern," Rademacher said.

Finally, the officers decided the best outcome for all would be to keep everyone safe and let the bear live to see more adventures.

After taking pictures, one of them tied a long rope to a door handle and pulled. After a few moments, Story said, the bear bounded out around 5 a.m., at least two hours after it had gotten inside.

It left a foul-smelling "present" on the front seat.

The Toyota was trashed, with its air bags, seats and stereo torn to shreds. It's a total loss.

Ben Story said he was scared when the family rushed outside to see the car was gone. "My dad is going to kill me," he thought to himself. "My car is gone. I didn't lock it. He said it was stolen."

Rademacher said deputies have enough experience not to be shocked during a day's work. But this will make for a great memory.

Ralph Story admitted the incident was pretty comical. He's glad the animal got away and no one was hurt.

"There's a bear in the car. Who are you gonna get mad at?"