Patrick Cooper had already turned around after reaching the halfway point in a popular mountain race in Alaska when he somehow veered off the trail and became lost. That’s when the 16-year-old Anchorage boy encountered the black bear that would take his life in a rare predatory attack.
Cooper began running, and at one point he reportedly placed a frantic call to his brother, saying he was being chased by a bear Sunday in the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb race south of Anchorage. The brother notified race director Brad Precosky, who alerted race crews to begin searching for Cooper, known as Jack.
It took a couple hours for responders to locate the teen, whose body was found about a mile up the path, at about 1,500 vertical feet (457 vertical meters). The bear was found at the site, guarding the body, Precosky said.
A Chugach State Park ranger shot the 250-pound (113-kilogram) bear in the face, but the animal ran away.
Alaska State Troopers said the boy’s remains were airlifted from the scene on Sunday.
State park staffers were scouring the area Monday looking for the bear, state Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh said. Sunday’s attack was believed to have been a rare predatory move, not a defensive action such as when a female bear will protect her cubs, he said.
“It’s very unusual,” Marsh said of the mauling. “It’s…