“Bear-i-versary” Revisited

This week marks the “10-year bear-i-versary” for the Steinwert family and the time when the following Letter to the Editor was published here, on June14th, 2012. They would like everyone to know they are still incredibly grateful to this community and “The fact we are able to have a home here now so we can surround ourselves with the people of Downieville is truly magical. Much love, Scott and Laurie.”

Bearly Doing Well


I want to express my heartfelt appreciation and admiration at the kindness and care your town has shown me this week.

Apparently my tale has been told and grown exponentially over the past few days. I was the mountain biker who met up with a bear. The bear won. Let me share my version … if you can find the bear, perhaps he’ll share his.

We arrived for a week Friday afternoon and I set out on my first ride Saturday morning. On the way to Sierra City, I made fast friends with the flag woman as we shared our love of Downieville, Oregon and the best approach to raising kids. I finally headed up the Trail of Tears to Packer Saddle. Having ridden up (no shuttle for me), I opted for the easy way down: County Road 93, thinking I might hurt myself if I risked the Downieville Downhill.

About 2/3 of the way down, going about 20 mph, to my great surprise a big brown bear appeared, running full speed across the road and right at me. In a split second I chose to run rather than stop. Sadly, my choice landed me squarely in the path of the bear. The bear ran right into me and my front wheel. I flew first onto the bear, then onto the ground. I thought the bear might be hungry, so I pulled myself up to begin running. Fortunately, he did the same. Watching him run off I collapsed, realizing I was hurt.

I was several miles from Hwy. 49, and in a lot of pain; suspecting a broken collarbone, shoulder or both. So I started walking. And, this is where my tale truly begins.

The first to come upon me were two mountain bikers. They headed back downhill to get some help. I kept walking. The next to arrive were two Quads and a dirt bike, summoned by the mountain bikers. One was an ex-EMT. The ex-EMT (once an EMT, always an EMT?) stabilized my shoulder and drove me down the hill. Halfway down we met a Knife River crew coning up. Since I was in good hands they traveled on to retrieve the remnants of my bike. At Hwy. 49, we were greeted by the CHP, the Sheriff, soon Downieville Fire with the ambulance and finally Dr. Kellermann.

The first thing the doctor said to me? “Oh – hi Scott – I just left your family … do they know you’re hurt?” We were again renting Dr. Kellermann’s house. My family did not know, so he checked me out then rode back to his house on his motorcycle to let them know I’d taken a tumble and they should meet us at the clinic.

It was the day of the High School graduation ceremony and absolutely everyone was in town. My family had been watching through the fence, amazed at the turnout for the four graduates. Dr. Kellermann and radiologist did confirm that I broke my collarbone; fortunately not my shoulder.

The amazing part of this tale is the whole community that came together to help me. Mountain bikers, quad runners, CHP, Sheriff, Downieville Fire, the radiologist and a world-class doctor all in one special mountain town. I know there are others who would have helped if called…they heard about the incident on their scanners and good old-fashioned word of mouth…as we discovered afterwards from the many people walking by our house who stopped by to say hello and check in.

When my family arrived at the clinic and I began to tell th story, I became overwhelmed with emotion because I realized how truly lucky I was and how truly special Downieville is. So thank you to everyone again – we will always be grateful.

Scott “Bear Rider” Steinwert

Besides printing Steinwert’s letter, this newspaper also observed the incident in the Sheriff’s Blotter with editor Don Russell’s distinctive flair:

“A bear was attacked by a bicyclist on a trail above Downieville. As we understand it, a bicycle wheel was squared up, but the combatants gave up and went their separate ways.”

Vicky Tenny’s At the Firehouse column also covered the event, saying the Downieville Volunteer Fire Department:

“Responded for a ‘bear-vs-bicyclist’ w/patient transported from Camp Yuba to WSMC”

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