It takes a lot to scare Laurel-Rose Von Hoffmann-Curzi who is already battling stage 4 lymphoma.
But what happened inside her North Lake Tahoe cabin early Saturday morning was enough to terrify her.
“I was screaming my head off from the minute he touched me,” said the Orinda resident. “What I could see from my shock and horror, the first thing that registered was, ‘my gosh that’s a bear!’”
She’s seen bears outside the cabin before, but this one was inside, on the second floor, rummaging through a freezer when she came face-to-face with it just before sunrise.
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“He came at me, and I couldn’t see at all what was happening,” said Von Hoffmann-Curzi. “I saw one paw, and really couldn’t see anything else like that – and then I just started getting ripped apart. It was terrifying.”
The bear headed back downstairs after her husband and son woke up and she crawled to a bedroom where, as a retired medical doctor, she assessed the damage and realized she was losing blood fast.
“I knew this was really severe,” she said. “I could tell my face was really separated here,” she said, showing her stitches. “And I put my legs up against the armoire, so the blood from my legs would go into my central body.”
Von Hoffmann-Curzi said she’s lucky to be alive.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife agents collected DNA samples and set traps outside the cabin, hoping to catch the bear.
They also say the family did everything right to avoid attracting a bear like no food in the garbage, only a bag of avocados on a counter – which the bear devoured.
Von Hoffmann-Curzi said this bear was aggressive, so despite her love of wildlife she wonders if this one needs to be put to sleep.
“Once a bear gets aggressive like this and starts feeling comfortable about hurting people, they’ll do it again,” she said.
Until it’s caught and euthanized or relocated, Von Hoffmann-Curzi said she’ll be staying away from the family’s cabin.