ORINDA, California (KPIX) -- An East Bay woman battling stage 4 cancer said she feels grateful to be alive after being mauled by a bear at her family’s Lake Tahoe cabin over the weekend.
“A bear mauling is not a little thing. It’s huge,” Laurel-Rose Von Hoffmann-Curzi told KPIX 5 as she sat in the living room of her Orinda home Wednesday.
Von Hoffman-Curzi has dozens of stitches in her face, deep lacerations on her chest and arms and puncture wounds all over her torso. She was mauled by a black bear early Saturday morning her family’s Tahoe Vista cabin – a cabin they’ve owned since 2004.
According to Von Hoffman-Curzi, it all started when she heard banging in the kitchen and went to investigate.
“I could see the freezer door half open, and food just going whoosh, whoosh, and it was like in an instant, ‘Oh my gosh. This is a bear,'” she recalled. “And the next thing that happens is that I’m being torn apart.”
Von Hoffman-Curzi said she was blocking the door where the bear came in and thinks the bear mauled her so it could get back out.
“I’m screaming the whole time. Screaming at the top of my lungs,” she said.
“That bear outweighed her by easily 400 or 500 pounds,” said Ann Bryant, the executive director of the BEAR League.
Bryant said the bear could easily overpower Von Hoffman-Curzi and that some of the black bears around Tahoe don’t seem to be afraid of people.
“We call it getting friendlier because what they actually are doing is they are getting more comfortable around people,” Bryant told KPIX 5.
Recently, a bear was spotted going into Safeway to get food, then into convenience store – not seeming to be bothered by the cashier trying to shoo it away.
Bryant said it’s people who have created this problem by leaving food out where bears can get it, like not securing trash cans or keeping food in their vehicles.
Von Hoffman-Curzi said she often spotted bears around her cabin, but never imagined she’d come face to face with one in her kitchen, especially at a time when she’s battling stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
“I am so incredibly lucky to be alive, I mean, no question,” she said.