ORINDA, Calif. (KRON) — “I was frightened, I was terrified. I was absolutely terrified, and it takes a lot to terrify me.”
Laurel-Rose Von Hoffmann-Curzi has seen bears in her California neighborhood and even snapped photos, but never has she encountered one inside the kitchen of her North Tahoe cabin as she did just before sunrise on Saturday.
“There was a light from the freezer shining on the bear, and he was heaving frozen food out onto the floor,” Von Hoffmann-Curzi said.
Before she could get back into her bedroom, the bear attacked. “What I saw was a paw, and I couldn’t see; I was just being torn. I couldn’t see what exactly was happening,” she said.
Eventually, the bear went back downstairs and out the door, but the damage had been done. Von Hoffmann-Curzi’s body was covered in blood, bruises and puncture wounds.
“I got to the bedroom and put my legs straight up against the armoire because I was afraid I was bleeding internally so I could get the blood into my central head,” Von Hoffmann-Curzi said.
State wildlife officials collected forensic evidence from the bite wounds in hopes of getting a DNA profile of the bear and set up a trap near the victim’s home.
“If we can get that bear in the trap, we will do the DNA work and compare the DNA profile,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife Capt. Patrick Foy said. “And if it is the same bear, it will be euthanized. And if not, it will be released.”
Von Hoffmann-Curzi is suffering from stage 4 cancer and had been at the cabin following a round of chemotherapy. She believes bears should live in the wilderness, but those that have adapted to the modern world should be relocated away from people.
“The brazenness of an attack in an occupied house is frightening, and I think Fish and Wildlife need to be careful about the bears they allow to exist in communities,” she said.
Von Hoffman-Curzi also said that her front door was closed, but she had not engaged the deadbolt before the bear entered — a mistake she won’t make again.
She does have plans to return to her Tahoe home until the bear is captured.