South African biker and beast collide, helmet wins

October 12, 2011 - 2:05 PM

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African mountain biker's collision with an antelope became an Internet sensation with uncommon speed and international reach, YouTube said Wednesday.

Evan van der Spuy, 16, was competing in a weekend race in a wildlife park when a leaping hartebeest, an antelope that can weigh up to 350 pounds (more than 200 kilograms), crashed into him, race organizer Max Cluer said in an interview Wednesday.

Cluer says van der Spuy was not badly hurt and the hartebeest returned to his herd to graze.

Johannesburg's Beeld newspaper quoted van der Spuy as saying he was briefly knocked unconscious and spent a night in the hospital. He said he remembers little, but has "the broken helmet to prove" the wild encounter happened.

Video by a fellow rider — punctuated by an off-camera exclamation of "holy cow!" — was posted on YouTube on Monday and had been viewed more than 5 million times by Wednesday, when it was the most shared and most viewed video in both South Africa and the United States. According to YouTube Charts, it was the most viewed video around the world of those uploaded this week.

YouTube Trends Manager Kevin Allocca told The Associated Press the video started gaining views on Monday morning and by the end of the day had been viewed 1.8 million times. By Tuesday, it was up to 3.4 million. YouTube said a rise of such speed is uncommon, as is being a top video in more than one country.

Race organizer Cluer said it was the ninth year the race had been held in the eastern South African game park, and that van der Spuy was among 350 competitors. Foot and bike races through wildlife reserves are common in South Africa, and Cluer said there had probably been other man and wildlife close calls, but the presence of a camera made this one different.

"It was a case of wrong place, wrong time for Evan, and for the buck, obviously," Cluer said. "It was just totally unexpected."