Boy killed during Alaskan Trail Race

By Alice Morrison

A 16-year-old runner has been mauled and killed by a black bear during the annual Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Bird Ridge south of Anchorage in Alaska.

Patrick Cooper of Anchorage had completed his ascent to the end point for the junior racers half way up Bird Ridge and was heading back down, when he phoned his brother just after midday to say he was being chased by a black bear. His brother, was also running the race and was close to the finish line. He told the organisers who immediately began a search for Patrick.

Tragically, he was found dead about two hours after the search started. When he was first spotted, rescuers couldn’t approach as the bear was guarding him. The bear was later shot in the face but ran off. Patrick was around 500 yards off the path in a heavily-wooded area only a mile from the end of the race.

He was declared dead at the scene and his body was airlifted out.

“This is the worst thing that could happen,” Brad Precosky, the organiser of the annual Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Bird Ridge told The Alaska Dispatch News.

“This has never happened. In the entire history of the race I’ve never known of any bear incidents.”

"When he was first spotted, rescuers couldn’t approach as the bear was guarding him"

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