Bear Attack: California Woman Battling Stage 4 Cancer Survives Mauling at Lake Tahoe

by Evan Reier

During a bear attack, it takes everything you’ve got to remain calm and find your path to survival. For one woman, she didn’t even get that chance.

Orinda woman Laurel-Rose Von Hoffmann-Curzi has been battling stage 4 cancer. But while at her Lake Tahoe home, the Californian did not expect a different battle. This time, the counterpart was a massive black bear.

It started as a loud banging noise was coming from the property’s kitchen. Seeking to investigate, Von Hoffman-Curzi headed downstairs.

But rather than a broken dish or anything like that, she entered the doorway and immediately saw the ursine.

“I could see the freezer door half open,” she explained. “And food just going whoosh, whoosh, and it was like in an instant, ‘Oh my gosh. This is a bear. And the next thing that happens is that I’m being torn apart.”

The predator pounced on Von Hoffman-Curzi, According to KPIX, the bear left lacerations and punctures all over her body, forcing her to get an extensive amount of stitches on her face.

Why did the bear attack occur? Well, from her perspective, it was due to being in the bear’s way. Being in the doorway meant that the bear’s entrance and eventual exit was now blocked.

“I’m screaming the whole time. Screaming at the top of my lungs,” she said. “A bear mauling is not a little thing. It’s huge.”

Fortunately, the woman was able to eventually get out of its grasps. In order to make time for her escape, she threw a blanket over the animal, giving her time to escape.

Expert Speaks on Bear Attack

Ann Bryant is the executive director of the BEAR League, an organization that seeks to assist in the relationship between bears and humanity.

Bryant says this incident is representative of a greater trend, as bears are getting more and more comfortable coming into civilization for food.

“That bear outweighed her by easily 400 or 500 pounds,” Bryant said. “We call it getting friendlier because what they actually are doing is they are getting more comfortable around people.”

It’s key to remember that bears don’t view humans as “friends,” especially truly wild ones. If you think getting close is a good idea, Bryant and many others would be sure to remind you that’s an easy ticket to a bear attack.

Bryant also says the rise in bear attacks is likely due to food being left out in the open, in the trash or otherwise.

For Laurel-Rose Von Hoffmann-Curzi, all she knows is that she is thankful she is around to tell the tale.

“I am so incredibly lucky to be alive, I mean, no question,” she said.