MAURY — A corrections officer is counting his blessings after an unfortunate collision with a bear last month.
Kayden Lebray, 32, was traveling north on N.C. 123, away from his job at the Maury Correctional Institution, when he struck and killed a black bear about a half mile north of N.C. 903.
The incident occurred just before 9 a.m. on Nov. 10. Despite his car being totaled, Lebray says he was heartened by the welcoming response he got from the community.
“People were very helpful to me,” Lebray said. “My takeaway from the accident was motivation and appreciation of my community.”
Lebray’s 2006 Chevrolet SUV sustained heavy damage on its right front end and he suffered injuries to his back and knees. The correctional officer also owns a gym called ZUU 26 where he teaches fitness classes. Additionally, he is an author and motivational speaker.
He decided to attend the two speaking engagements he had scheduled on the day of the crash saying, “I didn’t want to let the bear didn’t stop me from continuing to progress. No matter what amount of difficulty, you have to persevere and keep going.”
A report compiled by the N.C. Department of Transportation shows that animal collisions have decreased over the last year statewide. Greene County, where the wreck took place, ranks 59th on the list of counties with the most animal-vehicle collisions.
Nearby, Pitt County ranks second in the state with 1,712 crashes between 2018 and 2020 causing $4.9 million in damages.
According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the leading cause of non-harvest mortality in bears is vehicular collisions.
The commission suggests building wildlife underpasses to increase safety for both humans and animals that live near highways.
The commission collects data on animal collisions and asks the public to report incidents to them at 919-707-0050.