Family mourns teen mauled by bear during trail race - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Family mourns teen mauled by bear during trail race

As a family and community mourns, for now the bear continues to wander the trails. (Source: KTUU/CNN) As a family and community mourns, for now the bear continues to wander the trails. (Source: KTUU/CNN)

ANCHORAGE, AK (KTUU/CNN) - A teen was killed over the weekend after he was mauled by a bear while running an annual trail race in Alaska. 

Dozens of runners ascended and descended Bird Ridge Trail on Sunday for an annual Father's Day foot race. It’s an all-uphill 3,400-foot vertical climb, winding three miles through thick wilderness. It’s challenging terrain, and in 29 years many say this territory has never been a big problem. That all changed shortly after noon on Sunday.

"I've been running in the mountains for 30 years and people come down off the trail and say they've run into a bear. Sometimes it means nothing, other times, it's really serious like this,” said Brad Precosky, race director.

Anchorage Police say a 16-year-old boy competing in that race sent a text message to his mother, claiming he was being chased by a bear.

"The mother was here with her family, her children. They were running the race,” said Sgt. Nathan Mitchell of the Anchorage Police.

"He was in the junior race. He was on his way back down. And he went off the trail somewhere about halfway on his way down,” Precosky said. His fellow competitors had lost him in thick brush.

And when one came barreling down the trail saying there had been a bear attack, that, says race director Precosky, is when the entire race crew went into crisis mode. A group of volunteers immediately went back up the trail, without weapons, to search.

"There was probably over a dozen mountain runners that were on the scene that were keeping the bear sort of on its toes,” Precosky said. One says he saw the bear circling the teen somewhere off the beaten path. "We got word that it didn't look good when we got eyes on the bear around 2:30 p.m.,” Precosky said.

Rangers, Anchorage Police and fire, troopers, all responded as well. "We didn't have a whole lot of information, so we started sending assets down this direction,”  Mitchell said. 

"There was a brown bear sighting, there was a black bear with cubs sighting. We didn't know which was which,” Precosky said.  Eventually, they found one responsible. "I don't know anything about a cub. This was just a large black bear,” Mitchell said. And hit it with a single shot before it disappeared back into the brush.

Half a mile up the trail, in extremely rugged terrain, they discovered a parent's worst nightmare come true. Police say the teen appeared to have been dragged by the animal. "The officers went down very guarded, located the victim who was deceased,” Mitchell said.  

The teen would be the only one to not make it down the mountain on Sunday. "It's not something I want to see,” Precosky said. 

"Saddened. You know, it's tough when you have to deliver the news to a parent, who is hoping for the best,” Mitchell said. The body was airlifted out of the wilderness. 

"How do you respond as a parent when you hear news like that? It's devastating. It's tough," Mitchell said.  As a family and community mourns, for now that bear continues to wander the trails.

As of Sunday night, that trail remained closed. That incident now serving as a reminder to anyone going out in the wilderness to be extra aware of bears.
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