Bob Bear had strong local ties
Pedestrian killed in Wednesday accident taught at Lowell Whiteman for 25 years
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs resident Robert “Bob” Bear taught at The Lowell Whiteman School for 25 years and was affectionately referred to as “Bear” by all who knew him, his daughter said.
Bear, 77, died at about 8 p.m. Wednesday in a Denver hospital after being hit by a pickup that morning in Steamboat.
Bear was crossing U.S. Highway 40 at Pine Grove Road at about 11:15 a.m. when he was struck by a pickup beginning a right turn. Police said the truck had come to a complete stop and was moving slowly, but Bear was knocked to the ground and hit the back of his head on the pavement.
Bear was airlifted to Denver and admitted to St. Anthony Central hospital. Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said an autopsy is planned for today to determine the cause of death.
Bear’s daughter, Steamboat Springs resident Annie Meyer, said her father was returning from his daily walk from the Selbe Apartments to the Yampa River Botanic Park when the accident occurred. She described her father as an “extremely intelligent, cautious and alert elderly man.”
“He was fully aware of how dangerous that intersection is – he and his wife had commented on it on many previous occasions,” Meyer wrote in an e-mail to the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
Bear and his wife, MaLou Bear, retired to Steamboat in 2008. Bob Bear was on The Lowell Whiteman School staff from 1960 to 1985.
He was struck Wednesday by a white GMC pickup driven by Craig resident Terry Tomey, 48, who was heading east on U.S. 40 when he attempted to turn south onto Pine Grove Road.
“He walked right out in front of me,” Tomey said Wednesday. “I have no idea where he came from. I didn’t even see him standing on the corner.”
Meyer questioned Tomey’s account.
“I can tell you that (Bear) was not in a hurry – he was not physically able to hurry – and I sincerely doubt that he crossed against a green light,” Meyer wrote. Bear “was aware that he was slow, aware that it was a dangerous intersection, and he would always wait for a fresh light to cross.”
Reached on Thursday evening, Tomey said he had been unable to sleep since the incident.
A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Tomey said the emotional trauma of Wednesday’s accident was greater than any trauma he experienced in combat.
“This is just tearing me up,” he said.
Tomey again said he had come to a stop before pulling forward.
“I was at idle. I barely took my foot off the brake and by the time I turned to the front of the car, he was already there,” he said.
Steamboat Springs Police Capt. Joel Rae said that based on an interview with an eyewitness and the driver, it does not appear that possible charges against Tomey will be affected by Bear’s death.
“Based on the circumstances that we know of, and the witness that saw the whole thing, we don’t believe there was anything criminally negligent or careless, per definition, that transpired,” Rae said. “It’s just a bad situation, but there’s no indication of drugs or alcohol or anything else. It’s simply an accident, so no, we’re not going to be looking at vehicular manslaughter. We’re not even going to be looking at careless driving resulting in death.”
Rae said police have not made a final determination about what, if any, charges Tomey faces.
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