Former Sioux Falls Mayor describes motorcycle collision with bear on west coast trip

Former Sioux Falls Mayor hits bear with motorcycle, credits gear that saved his life
Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 9:22 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -You may recognize his name or voice if you’ve lived in the area for a while. Rick Knobe, former Sioux Falls Mayor and radio host, can now add safety advocate to his resume.

Now retired, Knobe has stories of travels, but he didn’t expect to experience or share this story. While on a motorcycle trip in Idaho, Knobe collided with a 50-pound young black bear.

“I see this movement, and I looked down, and literally, there is the bear. And it was like a nanosecond. I looked at the bear, and all of a sudden, crack,” said Knobe. “It happened so fast I didn’t have a chance to say oh, shoot.”

He doesn’t remember the minutes following the crash but eventually came around to answer some questions.

“A woman about two feet away from me; ‘Sir. Are you okay? Are you okay?”

Knobe lifted his head to see he was on the road, his motorcycle on its side in another lane, and the bear, unconscious, was about six feet away.

While another driver who had stopped to help thought it best to shoot the bear, believing it was either injured or would gain consciousness and start to attack those around him, the bear had other plans.

“And the bear lifts its head up, stands up, shakes off like a wet dog getting out of a lake, and runs down into the ditch,” said Knobe.

The Sheriff, who arrived awhile later at the remote scene of the crash, said they were fortunate the young bear was alone.

“Lucky the mama bear wasn’t around. And we started thinking about this, and oh my god,” said Knobe.

Knobe was airlifted to receive quick medical attention.

“A helicopter ride. So that was a unique experience. It also was a beautiful sunset, by the way.

The road rash, bruises, and seven broken ribs will heal. But things could have been so much worse.

Knobe points to his scratched-up glasses as he recalls the conversation with the ER doctor. “That could have been your eyeballs,” the doctor told him.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association says since 2017, helmets have saved almost 2,000 lives. Knobe believes he is one of them.

“I had my helmet on. I had my leathers on my boots, my gloves the whole deal; vitally important. So Ride Safe, Ride smarter, ride with your gear,” said Knobe.

He hopes to connect with more who stopped to help that day and offers his gratitude.

“Nice folks, all of them, Thank you,” said Knobe.

We asked Knobe if he plans on getting back on his motorcycle once it’s shipped back from Idaho. He’s unsure and plans to start on his bicycle and then decide.