Claremont family has grizzly wake-up call

David Overoye was awakened early Saturday morning by something many hillside residents fear—a family car getting torn apart by a bear.

Mr. Overoye, who lives on Briney Point Road in Live Oak Canyon, is used to seeing bears in the area. He even set up a hidden camera to capture images of bears sucking the sugar water out of his hummingbird feeder. So when he first heard a thumping sound in front of his house around 2 a.m., he thought nothing of it.

“I thought it was the trash cans getting knocked over by the bears, which happens not infrequently,” he said.

But the thumping kept happening, and Mr. Overoye went out to investigate. It was then when he received quite the shock: a large bear chaotically rummaging through his son’s Toyota Prius.

“He was smashed up against the front windshield and pounding on the door,” Mr. Overoye said. “However he got in, the door must have shut on him.”

He watched as the bear tore up the helpless hybrid—shattering the windshield, tearing up the front seat and ripping out the back seat. Mr. Overoye still doesn’t know how the bear got into the presumably closed and secured car, but it was clear he wanted out.

Mr. Overoye went inside and told his son Jack, a senior at Claremont High School.

“I went inside and said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but there’s a bear in the front seat in your car,’” he said. “And by the way, your car is trashed.”

Mr. Overoye was weighing his options. Should he call 9-1-1? Should he go back outside and open the car door or the hatchback, potentially placing himself in a dangerous situation with an angry and confused bear? 

When he returned to the scene with a flashlight, however, the bear had somehow freed himself and vanished, but not before laying waste to Jack’s car.

“It was a complete disaster,” Mr. Overoye said. “The whole backseat, there’s no cushion left, nothing left. The driver’s side panel was torn off.”

Remarkably, the outside of the Prius was largely unscathed, save for a few mud markings from the bear as it tried to make its way in. Not even a scratch or a claw mark was seen on the car’s exterior.

When asked what could have led the bear to Jack’s car, Mr. Overoye noted an old McDonald’s bag that was found within the wreckage.

“That bear, if you have any fast food, just the wrappers that you leave in your garbage can, it’s a calling card,” he said. “He’ll be there late at night.”

A neighbor who knows a lot about bears said that even the smell of perfume could attract them, Mr. Overoye added.

Thankfully, the car is still covered by Mr. Overoye’s insurance. He had actually considered changing his deductible last week and canceling comprehensive coverage on the Prius.

“For some reason, at the last minute, I thought I’ll just keep it a while longer,” Mr. Overoye said.

But for his son Jack, one major concern was on his mind—his car was trashed the night before the CHS homecoming dance. Thankfully, he borrowed his father’s car to get to the dance.

Matthew Bramlett


Submit a Comment

Share This