Teen survives terrifying bear attack thanks to his brother

Officials ultimately put the bear down

Michelle Del Rey
Monday 27 May 2024 17:19 BST
Bear attack parents speak

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A 15-year-old boy was attacked by a bear while camping with his family in Arizona last week.

Carol Hawkins, Brigham Hawkins’ mom, said that a black bear walked through the front door of a cabin the family was staying in, came up behind her son and swiped his face and head, leaving large, bloody scratches on the boy’s skin.

The bear returned a second time and swiped the boy’s arm. The family was camping in Alpine.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) put the bear, which they suspected to be about three years old, down.

Fifteen-year-old Brigham Hawkins was attacked by a bear while camping with his family last week in Arizona
Fifteen-year-old Brigham Hawkins was attacked by a bear while camping with his family last week in Arizona (Judith Hawkins)

The boy’s older brother, Parker, 18, heard him scream and tried to help, their mother told 12News. The other child thought the animal was a dog and didn’t realize he was confronting a bear until it started chasing him. Brigham was alone in one cabin while his family was in another.

“Parker ran up on the porch and went into the other cabin to get away from the bear,” Ms Hawkins said. “And the bear just paced back and forth on our porch.”

The children’s father, Shane, bolted for Brigham’s cabin. As he ran, the bear chased him, too. Still, the father managed to make it inside the cabin and call 911.

Once officials with AZGFD arrived at the scene, they quickly located the bear. The family told the outlet that they understood putting the animal down was necessary.

“People that… don’t understand wildlife or Arizona think that you know this is just normal bear behavior and we should be understanding.

“I just wish people could understand… this is not what you would expect, this is not normal. For whatever reason, there was something wrong with this bear, something was off.”

The agency told the outlet that the bear’s carcass will be examined and tested for disease by the department’s wildlife health specialists. Brigham is doing well, his mother said. The child was transported to a hospital for treatment and officials administered rabies vaccines as a precaution.

“For the most part he’s been very happy and thankful… for everybody,” the mother said. “He’s struggled with a lot in his life, and he has always done it with gratitude, and a smile on his face, and he’s doing the exact same thing with this.”

According to 12News, the incident is the 16th bear attack on people in Arizona since 1990, with the most recent death happening last year.

When coming into contact with a bear, experts advise people not to run, back away slowly, make themselves look bigger, throw items and yell at the bear, and fight back if attacked.

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