A teenage runner who was competing in an uphill Alaskan mountain race on Sunday met a grisly end after he was mauled to death by a massive black bear. Before he died, the terrified youngster managed to send a frantic text to his brother, who was also taking part in the race, to let him know that they were being followed.
The tragic incident took place during the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb, which is described as an uphill-only 3-mile race with a 3,400-foot vertical ascent. Children below the age of 17 were allowed to register for the race, although teens between the age of 14 and 17 could opt to complete the entire challenge.
The victim, 16-year-old Patrick Cooper of Anchorage, reached the halfway point in the race and decided to turn around, but instead of following the trail, he somehow became lost. Before long, he came across an angry black bear and began running for his life.
That’s when Cooper pulled out his phone and texted his brother, desperately seeking help. His brother alerted race director Brad Precosky, who ordered all members of the race crew to begin searching for the teen.
A few hours later, they made a tragic discovery: Cooper’s body was found about a mile up the path, the black bear who killed him guarding the body. A Chugach State Park Ranger shot the massive animal in the face, causing it to run away, and officials airlifted Cooper’s remains from the scene.
“It’s very unusual,” Alaska Fish and game spokesman Ken Marsh told ABC News. “It’s sort of like someone being struck by lightning.”
While female bears are known to become aggressive when anything gets between them and their cubs, Cooper’s slaying is thought to have been a rare predatory bear.
“This young man didn’t do anything wrong,” lamented Sgt. Nathan Mitchell of the Anchorage Police Department. “He was just in the wrong place.”