A 27-year-old man from Mackenzie, B.C., was dragged from his campsite and killed by a black bear while camping with his fiancée last weekend, according to family and the BC Coroners Service.
On Saturday night, Daniel Ward Folland O'Connor, known as Ward, went to sleep near the fire pit at his campsite while his fiancée, Jami Wallace, slept in their motorhome at a small forest service campground about 10 kilometres from Mackenzie.
When Wallace woke up, O'Connor was gone, and there was a trail of blood from their campsite, said his father Danny O'Connor.
"She followed the blood trail to find him, but the bear was gone when she got there, because she was doing a lot of screaming for him," said the father.
With no cell service, Wallace got in their car at about 9:30 a.m. PT and drove to get his father to help.
Bear stood over son's body
Danny O'Connor rushed to the campground and started searching through the bush for his son.
"I wanted to get out there and see if I could save him," he said.
"When I got there the bear was there," standing over his son's body, he said. "I couldn't go closer."
Danny O'Connor sat in his truck and waited for RCMP and the B.C. Conservation Officer Service to arrive.
"He loved the bush … he loved camping. And people loved Ward," said O'Connor.
Black bear shot, along with lone wolf
Shortly after the officers arrived, they shot a lone wolf, as they were still unsure what had killed O'Connor. Shortly after, they spotted a large male black bear weighing an estimated 140 kilograms and shot it as well.
A wolf had prowled the campsite fire pit two days before the attack and was filmed by Wallace and posted on Facebook.
Friends commented how the pair must have been scared and asked whether they had weapons for protection.
However, O'Connor said he was told there were no wolf marks on his son's body.
"The conservation officers, who know these things very well, confirmed that the injuries he had suffered were absolutely consistent with a black bear attack," said Barb McLintock of the coroners service.
It's not clear why the man was attacked, said McLintock.
She warned that this is a season when bears are out, and hungry, and people in the backcountry need to be "bear aware" and careful with things like food and garbage that attract the animals. She did not say whether food or garbage were what brought the bear to O'Connor's campsite.
"It's a very tragic story," said McLintock.
"They were just out enjoying the spring and having some nice days camping"