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Tarantula causes motorcycle crash in California's Death Valley

A crawling critter caused a couple to quickly brake on a road in Death Valley National Park, leading a person behind them to crash.
Tarantula causes motorcycle crash in California's Death Valley
Posted at 3:53 PM, Oct 30, 2023

Why did the tarantula cross the road? If it was to get to the other side, then the mission was a success, though not without causing issues on its way.

This tarantula has been named the reason for a crash in Death Valley National Park Saturday that caused a motorcyclist to be hospitalized, the National Park Service said.

The agency said a vacationing Swiss couple was driving on California State Route 190 when they slammed on the brakes in their camper van to avoid hitting the tarantula crossing the road.

Although their quick action saved the critter, which the NPS said "walked away unscathed," a 24-year-old Canadian man on a motorcycle crashed into the back of the couple's rented van. An NPS ambulance transported the motorcyclist to a hospital in Pahrump, Nevada, and there wasn't a clear update about his condition as of Monday afternoon.

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"Please drive slowly, especially going down steep hills in the park," said Mike Reynolds, NPS superintendent who was the first service employee on the scene. "Our roads still have gravel patches due to flood damage, and wildlife of all sizes are out."

Heavy rain from Hurricane Hilary, which hit Southern California in August, severely flooded and damaged roads as well as disturbed wildlife in Death Valley.

On top of that, the fall season is the time when 8-to-10-year-old male tarantulas leave their underground burrows, where they live most of their lives, to search for a mate. 

These spiders are slow-moving and not aggressive to humans. If they do bite a human, it's not deadly and is similar to a bee's sting.


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