Teen Mauled to Death by Black Bear During Annual Alaskan Trail Race

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A 16-year-old runner was pursued, mauled and ultimately killed by a black bear during a popular annual trail race outside of Anchorage, Alaska last week.

The Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb was in its 29th year when the bear attack—which Race Director Brad Precoscky called “the worst thing that could happen”—happened.

The runner, who was identified by local authorities as 16-year-old Patrick Cooper of Anchorage, texted his mother immediately after seeing the bear, but by the time rescuers made it to his location the teen had already been killed by the animal.

“The mother was here with her family, her children,” Anchorage Police Dept. Sgt. Nathan Mitchell told local news affilate KTUU. “They were running the race.”

The attack occurred just before 12:30 p.m. on Father’s Day, June 19.

After receiving a cell phone call from her distressed son, who was being actively chased by the bear at the time of the call, Patrick Cooper’s family immediately alerted race organizers, and a search was quickly mobilized.

Using GPS coordinates obtained via Cooper’s phone, searchers were able to pin-point the location where the young man was lying, but the presence of the bear that attacked him prevented the search and rescue team from immediately entering the vicinity.

With more development and fewer forests, bears and people live together in increasingly crowded quarters. Can we all get along? Learn more in our in-depth digital feature, The Bear Truth.

Eventually, a park ranger with the Chugach National Forest—the venue where the race took place—arrived and neutralized the bear with a shotgun. Cooper’s body was then life lighted from the scene.

According to rangers, the black bear that attacked Patrick Cooper weighed approximately 250 lbs. It was wounded by a shotgun slug to the face but fled the scene immediately afterward. According the Alaska Daily News, Chugach National Forest rangers are still trying to locate and kill the wounded animal.

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