I nearly died after black bear savagely attacked me when I caught him raiding my fridge…quick-thinking act saved my life | The Sun

IT was meant to be a scenic break miles away from civilization during the pandemic.

But cancer sufferer Laurel-Rose von Hoffmann-Curzi’s family getaway turned to terror when she was savagely attacked by a bear.


She came face-to-face with the black monster rifling through her fridge during a break on Lake Tahoe in October 2021.

Retired Californian doctor Laurel-Rose, 67, told how she, husband Mario, 68, a kidney specialist, and her son Michael, 30, were staying at a cabin when she heard crashing sounds from the kitchen early one morning.

When she went to investigate at the top of the stairs she saw a huge bear raiding the fridge.

She recalled: “The only light was a very dim glow from the open side-by-side freezer door, illuminating the back of a standing – and very large – black bear. 

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“It was taking things out of the freezer and flinging them on the floor. 

“That was what was creating the loud, pounding, crashing sound. The bear, apparently, did not like frozen meat. That was very clear.”

Within seconds the bear launched a savage attack which left Laurel-Rose with dozens of stitches as it tore at her face, breasts and abdomen.

She said: “It all happened in a moment… There was no real pause, no real time to do all the things that people counsel you to do.

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Laurel-Rose's injuries were horrificCredit: Supplied
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A black bear like the one which attacked Laurel-RoseCredit: Alamy

“I opened the door, walked over, saw it was a bear and it just flew at me. 

“I saw one large paw before he started tearing me up. I couldn’t see anything. I could just feel what were like knives and blades gripping at me.

“He tore my face wide open and right all over my neck – my breast, my abdomen, the back of my arm, my back.

“It was just… awful… absolutely terrifying… this powerful creature attacking me in absolute darkness. I started screaming and screaming. And I don’t scream.

I saw one large paw before he started tearing me up. I couldn’t see anything. I could just feel what were like knives and blades gripping at me

“I’ve had various situations where I’ve had broken bones and all kinds of things and I’ve never screamed for any of these things.

"I couldn’t stop screaming. I had suffered pain before, but this was unending terror.

“Childbirth was nothing in comparison to that pain. But this was endless terror.”

Laurel-Rose, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, tells her story in a new book called Bite Club, which tells the horrifying stories of real life predator attacks.

Author Douglas Wight has interviewed survivors of shark, wolf, lion and bear attacks who are part of a worldwide support group.

Laurel-Rose, who is vulnerable to Covid because she has cancer in her lymphatic system, tried to fight off the bear and managed to save herself – using just a quilt cover.


She told Douglas: “There was a quilt hanging on [a nearby] railing and I threw it over his head.

“It was the only thing that was there and the only thing, in that moment, I could think to do.

“It must have startled him as he turned around and went back down the stairs.

“He got most of the way to the bottom and stopped. Then he turned around again and started to come back up.

“I was screaming the whole time; I just could not stop screaming. At this point I had awakened my husband, who had been sleeping with me upstairs in the bedroom, and my son, who was sleeping downstairs. They both appeared from their bedrooms.

“The bear, I guess, decided three-on-one was too much. He turned back around and slowly sauntered out the whole way towards the front door and left.”

Laurel-Rose knows she’s lucky to be alive.

“After the bear left, I briefly saw myself in the mirror. It was pretty horrifying," she said.

“From my nose to my mouth was just wide open. I thought, 'Boy, I’m going to be wearing a Phantom of the Opera mask for the rest of my life'!"


Lake Tahoe is a natural bear habitat and visitors are warned not to leave food lying around.

But Laurel-Rose, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, was more than aware of the dangers and had locked everything away except one bag of unripe avocados.

She said: “A bubblegum wrapper will cause them to smash the windows and get into a car. Often the car is completely destroyed once they are inside. 

“They are always looking for food. They need over 20,000 calories a day in the fall, getting ready for hibernation. And the ones that have grown up in the Tahoe basin have learnt to live off human food and garbage.

"They break into trash cans and scare people away from picnic tables."

In February 2022, one 500lb bear nicknamed Hank the Tank was blamed for around 150 break-ins and vandalism in the Lake Tahoe area.

Police tried to deter the bear with paintballs, beanbags, sirens and tasers, but Hank seemed to have no fear of humans and experts talked about euthanasia.

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But he was saved when DNA evidence revealed he was one of just three giant bears causing problems – saving Hank from certain death.

Bite Club: Real-life attacks by sharks and other killer predators by Douglas Wight is published by Ad Lib today (May 4) Paperback RRP £9.99.




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