A black bear attacked a family of three in Polk County, Tennessee, killing a 6-year-old girl, and seriously injuring a 2-year-old boy and the children's mother. They have been airlifted to Erlanger Medical Center and are listed in critical condition.
The attack happened late Thursday afternoon in the Cherokee National Forest, at the Chilhowee campground.
The family was visiting from Ohio. According to Dan Hicks, a spokesperson with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, it was around 4 pm when the bear walked up to the family near Benton Falls. Everyone started throwing rocks and yelling at the bear to get it to go away. Instead the bear picked up the 2 year old boy and began to maul him.
The boy's mother beat the bear off her son and she was attacked. During the confusion the 6 year old girl ran away. The bear ran away as well.
A search began for the girl. She was found dead 100 yards away. Hicks said her injuries were consistant with a bear attack.
The bear was still in the area and was fired on by officers. However they're not sure if the bear was wounded or not and the hunt for the bear continues.
Attacks on humans by black bears are extremely rare. In May of 2000 a 50-year-old woman was killed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
"As far as we know, it's the first one (fatal attack) in the Southeast," said Nancy Gray, a spokesperson for the park at that time. "It's very rare for a black bear. They're just not as aggressive as grizzlies."
In that case Park Rangers killed two black bears found near the body of Glenda Bradley after they were notified of the attack.
There are only 52 known fatal black bear attacks in North America in the last 100 years..