Massachusetts camper dies in N.H. after bear scare


Jun 10, 2002
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Massachusetts camper dies in N.H. after bear scare
By Anne Saunders, Associated Press, 8/4/2004 13:15

SANDWICH, N.H. (AP) A 13-year-old boy attending a camp for underprivileged children collapsed and died after he was scared by a bear on a hike, authorities said Wednesday.

Antonio Hansell of Boston was hiking on Doublehead Mountain with a counselor from Camp Hale on Tuesday when they came across the bear, the state Fish and Game Department said. Officials said the two ran away, and the bear did not chase them.

Fish and Game Sgt. James Goss said that as the boy ran he went into respiratory distress and collapsed. Authorities reached him about two hours later. He was pronounced dead at a hospital in Plymouth.

An autopsy was being conducted Wednesday. Goss said he did not believe the boy had any medical problems.

Camp Hale, for low-income children from the Boston area, is in its 104th year.

Antonio, an only child who lived with his single mother, was one of 48 boys ages 11 to 13 at the 3½-week session, which is to end Aug. 17, said Ashley McCumber, president of United South End Settlements in Boston. The agency runs the camp, whose goal is to enhance campers' sense of well-being and their own potential.

McCumber drove Antonio's mother, Ericka Charles, and other relatives to Boston from New Hampshire Tuesday night.

''As you might imagine, anyone who loses a child, this is not supposed to happen. They're in deep shock,'' he said.

He said the family asked not to be contacted.

McCumber said Antonio's father lives in Panama and had not been a part of the boy's life.

Antonio was among six campers on a daylong excursion to Doublehead.

The camp barred reporters Wednesday while crisis counselors talked to camp counselors, McCumber said. He said campers had not been told yet, but would be sometime Wednesday. Meantime, the agency was calling parents of other campers and lining up support for them.

McCumber didn't anticipate canceling the rest of the camp session but said parents would be consulted.

He said Antonio had no known illnesses and no restrictions on his activities.

New Hampshire has 3,500 to 4,000 black bears, which naturally fear people and avoid them.

Jeremy Beauchesne, of Tamworth, hikes in the area frequently and wasn't surprised to hear of hikers encountering a bear.

''In the middle of the summer, middle of the woods, sure,'' he said.

Rob Calvert, a Fish and Game biologist, said the last time a bear killed anyone in the state was in 1784.

He said the best response when encountering a bear is to back away slowly, talk, clap loudly, and maintain eye contact so that it knows you are aware of it. It also is critical never to corner a bear.

''We never recommend anybody ever turn and run from a bear, which might trigger a predator-prey response,'' he said. That did not happen Tuesday, however.

Calvert said most problems occur when bears are fed by people, which teaches them to seek them out for food.

Tom Fisher, at the Sandwich General Store, said the camp is well-liked and respected in the town of about 1,300 residents.

''We've run Camp Hale for 104 years,'' McCumber said. ''We've never had an incident.''

AP reporters Jay Lindsay in Boston and Joe Magruder in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.

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Well-known member
Mar 18, 2004
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Sounds like a total fluke accident. I sure hope that childs mom remembers why she allowed her child to be there and why the facility works so hard to maintain programs for the less fortunate and doesn't try to go sue happy on them. It would just be like some twisted lawyer to convince a panel of jurrors that have no clue of what to expect in the outdoors that it was the camps fault. God rest the child's soul.

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