Black bear kills Alaska teen during mountain race

Ruben Ruiz
June 21, 2017

The runner, Identified by Alaska State Troopers as 16 year old Patrick Cooper of Anchorage, had just passed the turnaround and begun his descent when the deadly encounter occurred.

Alaska Daily News reported a park ranger shot the bear, but it retreated and rangers are still searching for it.

"It did definitely take a slug strike to the face when the ranger fired on it", Crockett said.

The identity of the teenager has not been released, but race officials told the newspaper the boy was attacked while descending Bird Ridge overlooking the Seward Highway near Anchorage. Precosky received the news in a terse and terrifying message from one of the members of the search party: "Eyes on bear. It's devastating, it's tough", Anchorage Police Sgt. Nathan Mitchell said. "Mountain runners are never safer than when they are in a race". Additional information has surfaced that the black bear that attacked Cooper wasn't the only one on the trail that day. The family member alerted Precosky about the text and a search was immediately executed. They used the "find my iPhone" app to home in on his location, which was about a mile from the trailhead and about 500 yards off into steep, densely-wooded terrain.

How and when Cooper lost the trail remains unclear.

"This young man didn't do anything wrong", Crockett said.

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"There were probably a dozen mountain runners up there keeping the bear on its toes", Precosky said. Following the incident, runners reported seeing multiple bears.

Witnesses say the black bear was large in size.

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Brad Precosky, the director of the popular three-mile, 250-person race, said that the mountain running community was stunned by the fatal mauling.

Two victims have been killed in Bear attacks in Alaska in the past two days. Sometimes that means nothing; other times, it's really serious.

The boy was running in the race's junior division, which is half as long as the three-mile adult race.

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