Wandering into nature is never ‘safe’, especially when you’re in bear country.
A news report of a missing teen took a tragic turn when he was found.
A 16-year-old runner in a Bird Ridge mountain race was killed by a black bear he apparently encountered while descending the trail Sunday, Alaska State Troopers and the race director said.
The victim was identified by troopers as Patrick Cooper of Anchorage.
…The popular mountain race is in its 29th year. The steep course takes adult runners up Bird Ridge, a familiar mountain that looms over the Seward Highway at about Mile 100.
Racers descend at their leisure. Juniors race to the halfway point, about 1.5 miles from the start, before heading down.
The runner had apparently made it to the halfway point turnaround and was on his way down when he used his phone to text a family member at 12:37 p.m. that he was being chased by a bear, Precosky said. The family member approached Precosky, who was then in the middle of handing out awards.
…A search was launched immediately, Precosky said. The family member had GPS coordinates from the missing runner’s phone that helped guide searchers to the area where his phone was. But the searchers, including runners that were part of the race, couldn’t get closer.
“The bear was remaining in the area where the young man was laying,” said Tom Crockett, a park ranger with Chugach State Park.
…A park ranger shot the bear in the face, Crockett said.
“It did definitely take a slug strike to the face when the ranger fired on it,” Crockett said. “We know he struck it.”
Even though the bear lived through that attack, the gunshot to the face chased it away.
If the teen had a gun on him, it may have saved his life.
Who knows? Maybe the group found him — had one of them been armed — could have saved him, too.