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Boy dies after being frightened by bear

A Boston boy attending a camp in New Hampshire for underprivileged children collapsed and died after being frightened by a bear, authorities said Wednesday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A 13-year-old boy attending a camp for underprivileged children collapsed and died after being frightened by a bear during a hike, authorities said Wednesday.

Antonio Hansell of Boston and a counselor from Camp Hale came across the bear twice Tuesday afternoon on Mount Doublehead, the state Fish and Game Department said. Officials said the two ran from the bear at the first encounter; they saw the bear a second time while trying to retrieve Antonio’s lost sneaker and also ran. The bear did not chase them.

When word reached Fish and Game Sgt. James Goss that Antonio was scared and did not want to continue hiking, Goss spoke to him by cell phone and judged he was having trouble breathing.

The boy collapsed, and was neither breathing nor had a pulse when rescuers reached him about two hours later, a half-mile from the end of their approximately 6-mile hike, the department said in a statement. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

An autopsy was being conducted Wednesday. Goss said he did not believe the boy had any medical problems.

Camp Hale is for low-income children from the Boston area, and is located about 100 miles north of Boston.

Antonio, an only child who lived with his single mother, was one of 48 boys ages 11 to 13 at the 3½-week session, which is to end Aug. 17, said Ashley McCumber, president of United South End Settlements in Boston. The agency runs the camp.

McCumber drove Antonio’s mother, Ericka Charles, and other relatives to Boston from New Hampshire Tuesday night.

“They’re in deep shock,” he said.

He said the family asked not to be contacted. McCumber said Antonio’s father lives in Panama and had not been a part of the boy’s life.

New Hampshire has 3,500 to 4,000 black bears, which naturally fear people and avoid them. Rob Calvert, a Fish and Game biologist, said the last time a bear killed anyone in the state was in 1784.

He said the best response when encountering a bear is to back away slowly, talk, clap loudly, and maintain eye contact — and to never corner or run from the animal.