Boy attacked by bear while sleeping

August 04, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

BARTON FLATS, Calif. -- Clambering over two counselors, a black bear severely mauled a sleeping 13-year-old boy at a campground in the San Bernardino National Forest, despite efforts of a third counselor to fight the animal off yesterday.

Joshua Isaacs of Ojai, Calif., was hospitalized at Big Bear Lake, Calif., with deep scalp and shoulder lacerations that required more than 100 stitches, officials said. Following sur

gery, the boy was listed in guarded condition. Two of the counselors were treated for minor injuries.

"Last night I had dinner at 6 o'clock," the boy told nurses at Bear Valley Community Hospital. "This morning, at 5, the bear ate me for breakfast."

Trackers with dogs set out after the bear to kill it, partly in an attempt to examine it and find out what caused the highly unusual attack. One concern was that the bear might be rabid.

State Fish and Game Department officials said the 175-pound animal apparently was attracted by food scattered about the campground, where campers and counselors were bedded down in sleeping bags. The officials said candy wrappers, peanut butter sandwiches and apple cores were found at the campsite.

"That's our big message here -- keep that stuff cleaned up because it attracts bears," said Pat Moore, a spokesman for the department.

Mr. Moore said Joshua was part of a group of 150 teen-agers on an outing on the north flank of Mount San Gorgonio. The campground, about 25 miles east of San Bernardino, Calif., is at an elevation of 6,800 feet.

Lorraine Lawrence, a public information officer with the U.S. Forest Service, said the bear apparently invaded the campground about 5 a.m., scraping two counselors with its claws as it lumbered over them while

they slept.

"Bears have claws that are out all the time, so they could do quite a bit of damage walking over you," she said.

Ms. Lawrence said that as the two counselors -- Jason Kozleski, 23, of Boulder, Colo., and Geertruda Derhaar, 19, of the Netherlands -- shouted warnings, the bear continued on its way, heading directly for a raised dirt parapet where Joshua lay alone, asleep in his sleeping bag.

The boy awoke as the bear began clawing its way into the sleeping bag.

"At first I thought it was a raccoon on my head, but then I noticed it was a bear's paw," the boy told nurses. "I remained very still until I felt his teeth biting my head. Then I screamed."

Joshua's screams awoke another counselor, Njal Hansen, 20, of Denmark, who had been sleeping in a lean-to near the boy.

"I thought it was a raccoon, so I kicked it," Mr. Hansen said. "It jumped up, and I saw it was a bear. And I screamed very loud."

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