Boy recovering after being bitten by bear near Leadville
July 17, 2011
DENVER – A 13-year-old Aurora boy is recovering in the hospital after a rude awakening early Friday when a bear broke into his tent near Leadville and attacked him.
“I feel extremely lucky,” Rick Voss said Friday night at Childrens Hospital Colorado. “I didn’t like being shark bait.”
The attack happened at about 3:30 a.m. as Rick was camping with family members at a Colorado Bowhunters Association event at Twin Lakes.
Rick was in a tent with his cousin, Brandon Landis, 15 when he awoke to noise outside.
“I heard stuff just outside the tent,” Rick said. “You know how bears snort?”
The bear was going through a cooler in the campsite. It also checked out packages of bottled water and cartons containing about six dozen eggs, the boys and officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife said.
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Rick wasn’t sure what the noise was until the bear peeked through Rick and Brandon’s tent window and pawed the tent open.
“I didn’t know what to do so I just tried to stay really still,” Rick said. “I just didn’t want to make it mad.”
But that didn’t work. The bear became more violent, and sniffing turned into nibbling and biting.
“At one point he tried to drag me out of the tent,” Rick said. “Luckily my pajamas had been torn, so he just broke those off.”
Eventually Brandon escaped and ran to find help for Rick when the bear left to find another entrance into the tent.
“I was running and I tripped,” Brandon said. “The bear was right behind me.”
Randy Hampton, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said that’s when the bear got scared.
“The noise awakened other people – there were hundreds camping there – and they managed to scare the bear off,” Hampton said.
Rick escaped the attack with just a few bruises, scratches and a cut.
Brandon escaped unharmed, but the experience left both boys shaken.
“It’s hard to understand you were so close to being dead,” Rick said.
Brandon said he needed to stick with Rick.
“I was just a nervous wreck,” Brandon said. “I needed to be with him.”
Officers and tracking dogs combed the area looking for the bear and eventually found a 200-pound male bear that matched the description of the attacker about 3/4 mile from the campsite. The bear was put down shortly before 7 p.m.
Both boys said they will take a few months to stay away from camping, but know they will be back.
“It’s probably just best to take more precautions,” Rick said. “Me trying to stay still didn’t work.”