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Boy Killed by Bear in American Fork Canyon

   |  Posted Jun 18th, 2007 @ 10:00pm


Sam Penrod Reporting

It was a horrifying end to a family's camping trip in American Fork Canyon when a bear dragged a sleeping child from a tent and mauled him to death. It's the first fatal attack in Utah's history.

Authorities still have not released the identity of the victim. But Tuesday morning, the Deseret Morning News will report the young boy who was killed while sleeping in the tent is 11-year-old Samuel Ives from Pleasant Grove.

The Division of Wildlife Resources confirmed that the bear that was shot and killed earlier today is the bear that attacked the young boy late last night.

Now, the threat of the bear in American Fork is over, but people's nerves are shattered by this tragedy.

Jim Karpowitz tells KSL, "When it is hot and dry like this, bears are short on food and they go looking for food. And sometimes they can create problems. And this is certainly a big problem today, and we are really saddened by it."

The boy and his mother, six-year-old brother and stepfather were in a primitive camping area when the bear attacked. The father ran about a mile, to the nearby Timpooneke Campground for help.

John Sheely, the campground host, said, "It was around eleven o' clock when the bear, all of the sudden I got knock at the door, I mean a really panicked knock, and the father said his son had been kidnapped."

Initially there were fears the 11-year-old had been abducted by a human. His stepfather heard his screams but couldn't see the boy. It seems the bear clawed right through the multi-room tent and dragged the boy out in his sleeping bag. Sadly, his body was found two hours later about 300 yards away.

Scott Root, with Division of Wildlife Resources, says, "The bear went into the tent, ripped a hole in the tent, not knowing what it had, grabbed the sleeping bag and dragged the young man out."

Bear hunters went out in the middle of the night. Ten hound dogs were used to track the bear in some very rough and rocky terrain. Just before noon, the hunters were able to find the bear and it was shot and killed.

Tim Clark, with U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement, said the area where the bear was found was "really steep, about 40-60 degree slopes in heavy timber really rocky. A lot of brush and underbrush, about four to five foot of brush."

The carcass was taken to a veterinarian to be examined.

Kevin Bunnell, with the Division of Wildlife Resources told us, "It was an adult bear, definitely not one of the cubs we've been talking about, a good size. It took four of us to lift it in the back of the truck, 250-300 pounds, which this time of year, is a bear that is pretty big."

Authorities are not answering questions as to whether or not there was any food in the tent, to see if that was a factor in the bear attacking the boy.

The boy's family plans to hold a press conference tomorrow morning and share some insights about his life as they face this terrible tragedy.

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