By Adrienne Moore

TAHOE CITY (CBS13) — A bear in Tahoe City had to be euthanized after a driver hit the 400-pound animal and kept going.

People in Tahoe City called the big guy “Papa Bear.” He’d been part of the community there for more than 15 years, according to the Bear League.

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The only witness of the fatal collision was a woman taking her children to school.

“We’ve got wildlife here, and they don’t always look both ways before they cross all the time,” said Ann Bryant, executive director of the Bear League.

She saw the badly injured bear suffering in the snow.

“It was just completely hopeless, and I knew that. We all knew that,” Bryant said.

It was hopeless because this beloved bear was paralyzed after the driver hit him on Rocky Ridge Road and took off.

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“The disrespect shown to him, and just leaving him laying alive on the side of the road like he’s nothing, that really hurt people,” Bryant said.

The Bear League calls the driver’s actions immoral, but the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said what happened was not illegal.

“There’s no legal requirement to stop and render aid to the injured animal,” said Captian Patrick Foy with Fish and Wildlife. “In fact, we really go as far as recommending against approaching an injured animal.”

Foy said the better option is to call 911 and wait for help. His hope now is that drivers learn from this tragedy and remember to slow down and stay aware.

“Drivers need to be cautious,” he said. “They need to observe the speed limits and recognize that these bears can jump out at any moment.”

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Papa Bear wasn’t just popular in Tahoe City. He was also a bit of a casanova. The Bear League said he fathered many of the cubs in the area — many, in fact, that look just like him.

Adrienne Moore