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Bear that Killed Boy May Have Encountered Campers Earlier

Bear that Killed Boy May Have Encountered Campers Earlier

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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Courtney Orton and Jed Boal ReportingWildlife officials think the same bear that killed the 11-year-old boy was spotted by different campers Sunday morning. The campers reported the encounter, and believe the officials could have done more.

When the campers woke up Monday morning and heard on the news that an 11-year-old boy was dead after a bear attacked him near the same campground they were attacked in, they couldn't believe it.

Kathy Francom, the mother of one of the campers, said, "This is needless. There's no reason for this. We are just really fortunate, our family, but there was absolutely no reason for this."

Kathy says wilderness officials could have prevented the death of the 11-year-old boy if they would have closed the campground after her son's attack.

"When we woke up to this news, Kurt (her husband) just screamed. We both started crying," Kathy said.

The camper's father, Kurt Francom, asked, "Why allow someone to go back into that exact campground? I knew personally that bear would come back. It had been in their coolers, it had been in their tent."

Bear that Killed Boy May Have Encountered Campers Earlier

Kurt and Kathy's son Jake was camping for the weekend. It was 5:40 in the morning when the bear took several swings at Jake and camper Collett Young.

"As soon as I started yelling, he came right through the side of the tent, ripped my pillow out the side of the tent," Jake Francom said.

Bear that Killed Boy May Have Encountered Campers Earlier

The bear left his print when he sliced the pillow and landed a blow on Francom's head.

Collett Young said, "All of the sudden this claw comes through the tent and I screamed bloody murder, yelling for his friend Troy. I'm like, ‘Troy, get your gun, get your gun.' I thought it was coming in there at us."

Bear that Killed Boy May Have Encountered Campers Earlier

Their friend Troy shot his gun into the air. The bear ran away briefly, but soon returned. It clawed and jawed two coolers, sank its teeth into mustard and salsa, ate two loaves of bread and chips, but did not touch the meat.

"It went out about 50 yards," Jake Francom said, "turned around and sat there looking at us."

The bear returned, but didn't get close the second time. Troy fired a shot toward the bear and it ran away. The rattled campers called police when they got down the canyon.

The Division of Wildlife Resources says they spent most of the day searching for the bear. They say the encounter was just a bear brushing up against the tent and that they did all they could.

Bear that Killed Boy May Have Encountered Campers Earlier

Scott White of the Division of Wildlife Resources said, "The information that came to me, from my officer when he received the call was that, what he told me was that a bear had brushed up against the tent. Now, whether that's the information that was relayed to him or to dispatch, I do not know."

Jake Francom said he had nothing in the tent to attract the bear. He also says he's camped in that area for 25 years and has never seen a bear.

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