Police released photos Tuesday that show the bear that killed a 22-year-old Rutgers student who had been hiking with friends in a New Jersey nature preserve two months ago.
Authorities believe the photos of the bear were captured right before the Sept. 21 attack on Darsh Patel. Patel had gone hiking in the Apshawa Preserve with four friends when they encountered the bear, according to authorities. The group ran in different directions and noticed Patel was missing when they regrouped.
Recordings of the 911 calls captured Patel's friends' panic.
"Hey, hello, I'm on Macopin Road, it's 81 Macopin Rd., I believe I'm in West Milford or somewhere around there," said a friend in the first 911 call. "We were hiking and we saw a bear, and we all started running and it started chasing us."
"Two of us are OK, one other person (unintelligible), but two are really close, and I'm scared out of my mind for them. I want to go back, but I'm hurt and I don't know what to do," the caller said.
West Milford police and other officers responded, and found Patel's body a short time after they arrived. Officials said Patel had bite and claw marks on his body that indicated he'd been attacked by the bear. His cellphone, which was located nearby, had a puncture mark on the screen.
The bear was stalking Patel's body and would not leave the area even after officers tried to scare it away by making loud noises and throwing sticks and stones, and it eventually was killed with two rifle blasts. Authorities said it was 4 years old. A necropsy determined it was not rabid.
Test results released by the state Department of Environmental Protection revealed human blood was found on the bear's front paws, and bits of human tissue, hair and clothing were found in its stomach, according to the report from the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife.
State and local officials have stressed that bear attacks are rare even in a region of the state that may have as many as 2,400 bruins in its dense forests. They said the attack was the first fatal bear-human encounter on record in New Jersey.