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April 01, 2008

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Family Seek 2.5 Million Over Fatal Bear Attack

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

In the moments after a black bear hauled off her 11-year-old son in American Fork Canyon last June, Rebecca Ives said . . . [r]escuers placed yellow tape around the family's campsite and took them to safety.

[She says] such markers should have been placed around the site before the family arrived. The bear that killed Sam Ives raided campers earlier that morning and authorities were notified. . . .

"We would have known something was up if there was just yellow tape up there, and I would still have my son," a tearful Ives said at attorney Allen K. Young's Provo office.

Their suits are seeking $2 million from the U.S. Forest Service and $550,000 from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) . . .



I understand where the family is coming from, this is a terrible thing, but it's part of camping and being in the woods. When we leave the cities and suburbs, we enter the animals' territory. Closing campsites after every bear incident is impractical. And, from the article at least, there appeared to be no reason to think that this bear was a serious threat. It had broken into coolers and tents, but the article did not mention anything about the bear threatening people. You take a risk every time you go out into the woods, especially in bear country.

Guess what. I shot a turkey today... April Fools.(I did see my first during the season, though). You jokers.


Agreed. Its tragic that thier son was killed, but its crazy to think that we can (or for that matter should) "human proof" the outdoors. Death by bear attacks are extremely rare, and to "tape off" every camp site a bear has been recently would pretty much shut down national campgrounds in many parts of the country. We like to think that we can put a procedure in place to prevent any and every accident and tragedy. Im just not convinced...

Blue Ox

The parental unit who does not watch over their offspring in bear country (!) does not get to have any.
Next time you wanna go farting around in bear country, bring your brain.
And a gun.


It is tragic and sad... but where's the $2-million play into this? As a country/culture we need to learn to stop asking for money and just go home and grieve a loss.

Mc. Squizzy

tragic yet stupid of her to. It happens u know. Not often, but it does.


I remember in law courses there is something called "implied risk". This concept refers to the idea that, when you choose to do some recreational activities, you assume that there is risk involved in that activity. If you are mountain climbing and fall off of a cliff, your survivors can't sue the owner for negligence. I would assume that camping and bears might be covered by this same concept.
My heart goes ought to the family just the same. I can't imagine what they are suffering!


sad for the family, a true tragedy.
but like others posting here...the outdoors ain't your backyard. there's lions and bears out there. when we move into their world we are no longer necessarily at the top of the food chain. risk is a part of life, and this family should accept that. we cannot always blame the gov't. or others for completly ramdom occurences and seek monetary damages.


Wow, Blue Ox! That is incredibly cold. Utterly lacking compassion. Maybe the parents made a mistake. Maybe they looked away for a moment--like every parent I know will readily admit to having done on occasion. Maybe they didn't totally appreciate the risk of camping in bear country. And I'm sure most of us will agree that they don't deserve monetary reparation. But for crying out loud, to suggest that they DESERVE to have their child killed for such an oversight is a shockingly heartless remark. Your comment makes us all look bad.


Funny thing...I have been vacationing and going to college in Utah for several years, and there have been bear warning signs posted at most of the campsites that I have visited. While unfortunate, bears are a part of nature, and anywhere that bears may be (especially campsites where there are things that attract bears) caution should be used.


I agree with Joel. Let's not come down on the parents. They shouldn't be asking for what they are asking, but their decision to do so in no doubt colored by a grief most of us cannot fathom. I think we can give them a pass here.


Exactly right. The lawsuit is wrong. But the parents are forgiven.

Blue Ox

Cold? Possibly. See it however you like. I just don't have any sympathy for those ignoring the obvious. The parents KNEW the danger, they KNEW that bears inhabit the area. And by not taking the proper precautions, (the child also had candy in his tent) the ultimate price was paid.
But why bother suing the state, or anybody for that matter? There's no amount of money that's gonna bring the kid back.
I never said the parents deserved to lose a child, but this is too much like letting them play hopscotch on the expressway for me to feel sorry for them. If anything, that chunk of cold steel in my chest goes out to the child, for having to leave this world in such a manner.


You said it Ox. It is a tragic and horrific way for anyone to die. Maybe this incident will help others in the future to think before blindly taking risks like that...and help them to remember a gun or bear spray. Vigilance and care should always be used in wild country. ASSUME a bear will come, PLAN on a having some kind of defense when it does and be happy when it doesnt come down to defending your life and celebrate it after successfully defending it or mourn the dead.

Matt Mallery

Families like this, with their lawsuits, are ruining this country. What kind of a handheld crybaby country do we want here? It the wilderness. If you can't die, it's not wilderness. Go to Disneyworld. I want to say I hate these kinds of people. strong ? Yes. But I don't want to live in a country were the Forest Service will not all me to camp because they are worried about me sueing.


I have every respect for the family, but isn't this akin to suing Ford because the kid got hit by a car playing in the middle of the freeway!? During rush hour!?
Another move by the "FEEL GOOD" generation to rationalize/justify actions that reek of placing your care in someone else's hands, and then being upset because "nature" didn't play by their rules! Ergo: "That's okay honey, it's just a little baby bear and it looks so sweet. Sure, you can pick it up!"
Life isn't fair, and no matter how hard you try, you can't "make" it fair!



I think we all agree that the lawsuit is BS and that the parents shouldn't have brought it. But that is NOT incompatible with having some sympathy for their loss.

Brian T

Although BlueOx makes a point, Parks are places where you are not allowed to defend yourself and your family. I must assume that there are bears in the high valleys of the northern Rockies. The shotgun + #4 buck is more important than my coat.

don m

very very sad, no one should have to go this way.i learned a long time ago, never go into the wild with out my GUN. 5 min. or 5 hours ,it goes with me.



Blue Ox,
I go to state parks all the time and I don't expect to horribly mauled to death by a bear. Guess I am dumb.

On to the lawsuit. The bear was in other campsites that morning. Park Rangers would at that point have an obligation to inform campers of the bear being in the area. Not to do so was negligence on their part. I think they would and should lose if they go to court.


People sue when they feel they have a rightful claim to compensation (actually, these days, they sue whether or not they feel they have a rightful claim).

In this case, the bear felt it had a rightful claim to the child. This puts a clear perspective on the nature of "animal rights."

Walt Smith

Let me get this straight,your 11 year old son is only worth 2 million? Yep, its probably the forest services fault for not taking the initiative especially when there was a complaint earlier in the morning, but what do you really expect for 9.00 a hour. which brings up the fact that we should all be prepared when induldging in such activities in "Bear Country". Besides, if it was my son I would start out at least at 2 Billion to let their lawyers know I was serious about the love for my son. 2 million is a joke, was he adopted??


The blame shouldn't be on the forrestry service- the blame should be on the campers who left coolers out and other food to attract the bear in the first place. If you're in bear country you can expect an encounter if you don't hang up your food and keep all food out of tents. Don't sleep in clothing you were wearing while you ate either. When I camp in bear territory I stay away from campgrounds because they just attract bears because of all the yahoos out there who have no conception of bear safety. The fresh claw marks and rubbing marks on the trees let alone the tracks should have been plenty of warning not to mention the sign. That being said- my heart goes out to the family. Everyone makes mistakes.


I really think you are letting these park personel off the hook to easy. If it was a convict or a pedfile loose that morning Rangers would have been around warning people. I don't think any of you would have been blaming the family if the boy was molested and stabbed either.


A bear which belongs in the area of this incident is far different from a human predator who belongs in jail at the least (gallows pole is more fitting for any cretin who harms children)! Park officials including Rangers do their best to educate visitors about the hazards present in the area, they also take appropriate action when a bear or other animal has shown truly aggressive behavior (this one apparently hadn't). Blaming the Rangers in this tragedy is akin to blaming police for failing to catch the one drunk driver who kills your loved one on Friday night.

The family has suffered a terrible tragedy BUT they should have been prepared and taken proper bear avoidance precautions. Too many cute TV bears lulled them into false sense of complacency.

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