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Bear slips into cabin and attacks teen, AZ family says. 'Never in our wildest dreams'

Mitchell Willetts, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in News & Features

A 15-year-old boy was on vacation with his family when a black bear entered their cabin and attacked him, Arizona officials and news outlets reported.

The bear attack happened near Alpine, near the New Mexico border, on May 23, the Arizona Game and Fish Department said in a news release. The adult male bear slipped into the cabin through an open door seemingly unnoticed and came up behind the teen as he was sitting, then struck him in the head with its paw, officials said.

“Never in our wildest dreams did we think (a bear) would come in the home,” the boy’s mother, Carol Hawkins, told KTVK. “He hadn’t realized it because it came in from behind, and it reached over and like swiped at his face twice.”

Family members came to help and the bear ran out of the cabin, according to wildlife officials, but it returned moments later and attacked the boy a second time.

But his family didn’t back down and the bear left the cabin again, and stayed out, KTVK reported.

“It was thanks to the quick reaction by his brother and his family that they were able to distract the bear from what very easily in a matter of seconds could have turned into a real tragedy there,” state Game and Fish Department Law Enforcement Supervisor Shawn Wagner told the station.

Wagner said authorities responded and killed the bear roughly 120 feet from the cabin, the outlet reported.

The boy was taken to a hospital with injuries to his face and an arm, according to officials.


His family is grateful he survived and is recovering, KXNV reported.

“We feel very blessed that it wasn’t worse,” Hawkins told the station.

The bear is estimated to be about 3 years old, officials said, adding that its remains will be tested for diseases.

“Black bears are predatory animals and should always be considered unpredictable and dangerous,” the department said, noting that this incident is the 16th time a bear has attacked a person in Arizona since 1990. Two of those attacks were fatal.

Alpine is a roughly 250-mile drive northeast from Phoenix.


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