Bear causes chain-reaction car crash; three dead and eight injured

Three cars were involved in the pile up after a Cadillac Escalade hit a bear in Florida

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Three people died and eight were injured following a car pile-up that started when a driver hit a bear on a two-lane road in the Florida Everglades.

A Cadillac Escalade hit a black bear and a second vehicle stopped to help the driver when a third car then plowed into them. The bear also died during the incident which happened on the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation in an area known as Alligator Alley.

Seminole Police spokesman Gary Bitner told The Associated Press that the crash happened on Sunday evening before 7 p.m.

"Three people from a second vehicle got out and tried to help and all were struck and killed by a third vehicle," Bitner said by telephone.

"We've never had an accident involving a black bear. There are black bears throughout Florida and this is in the Everglades, so there absolutely are black bears in that area."

Officials said that four critically injured people were airlifted to hospital in Fort Lauderdale and that some of the victims were children.

Bitner said that the identity of those involved in the crash was not immediately available. Accident reconstruction experts stayed on the scene of the crash until late on Sunday to determine what exactly happened.

Bear encounters in Florida are fairly rare, although last week wildlife authorities said they captured and killed a bear that apparently bit a woman's arm as she walked her dog in the Orlando suburb, Lake Mary.

Additional reporting by the AP.