Canada

Bear killed Mary Beth Miller

Quebec's coroner says biathlete Mary Beth Miller was killed by a bear that attacked her from behind.

Yvan Turmel spoke Wednesday afternoon at a news conference.

Turmel re-constructed Miller's last moments on July 2 when the athlete went out for a jog near the woods in Valcartier.

He says she was hit on the side first and managed to get away. But the bear caught up with her and clawed her at the back of her neck. That's when she fell and the bear kept attacking.

"She had no chance of escaping this attack," said Turmel, who spoke in French.

He says the bites and claw marks are mostly in the back and sides of her neck and they correspond with that of a black bear.

The 24-year-old biathlete from the Northwest Territories was found dead on Sunday.

Miller's family has set up a scholarship fund that will benefit a female athlete in the Northwest Territories every year.

"She was a great role model and just an awesome person all around," said Jeannie Wainwright, a friend and skiing partner of Miller's from childhood.

Quebec's Wildlife Protection Agency trapped a black bear but they found it was not the animal involved in her death.

Military personnel were called in to patrol the area where the attack took place. Inside the perimeter, wildlife officials set traps for the bear.

Among those involved in the operation was Capt. Jeff Tremblay. He and a friend were chased by a black bear in the area just two weeks ago.

"I just had the time to turn around and I saw the bear right behind me, so I started going as fast as I could on my bike just to escape the bear," he said.

After that run-in, military officials set two bear traps in the area. Some people say that wasn't enough.

A trainer with the biathletes says the area should have been closed down.

Maj. Daniel Bouchard says experts were consulted. "It didn't look like a major problem. We talked with the experts at the time and we decided just the bear traps are good enough."

Wildlife official Norman Saindon agrees. He says it is extremely rare for a black bear to attack a human. He says in 28 years of working with wildlife this is the first deadly attack he's ever seen.

Miller's funeral will be held on Sunday.