Sunday and Monday saw two vicious wild animal attacks in two different Northeastern states. The attacks, by a black bear and a fox, resulted in the death of a Rutgers University student Jersey and four injuries at an elementary school in Connecticut.
The student who died is Darsh Patel. The 22-year-old information technology major was mauled and killed by a black bear while hiking with four friends on Sunday afternoon in the Apshawa Preserve, a 576-acre wooded area in Passaic County.
When the bear came upon the five men, they all fled in different directions, local police chief Timothy C. Storbeck explained in a press release obtained by The Star-Ledger.
The four surviving friends were eventually able to locate each other. At around 3:45 p.m., when they couldn’t find Patel, they called police.
A search and rescue team discovered Patel’s body a little over two hours later.
“Evidence at the scene indicated that the victim had been attacked by a bear,” the police chief said in the press release.
“From those who knew him we’ve learned that Darsh was friendly, a real team player, and someone who was highly motivated,” a Rutgers dean, Claire McInerney, told The Daily Targum.
The Star-Ledger noted that the five hikers were carrying granola bars, which may have attracted the hungry black bear.
When a search team member — a police officer — found the 300-pound bear, it was still guarding Patel’s body. After trying and failing to scare the beast away by clapping, the cop fired his shotgun at the bear twice, killing it.
The black bear attack is believed to be the first time a bear has killed a human being in the Garden State since the Civil War era.
Meanwhile, in the small Connecticut town of East Windsor, a fox on the grounds of Broad Brook Elementary School attacked a total of four people in two separate attacks on Monday morning over the span of about two hours.
One of the victims was a second-grade boy, Hartford CBS affiliate WFSB reports.
“It bit my ankle first and then it bit my wrist,” Witzke told the station. “We were having gym outside and we were playing this game and I was running around and this fox just came out after me.”
The hero of the Connecticut story is the gym teacher, Elissa Daniele.
“I noticed a fox begin to go after a student and I thought, ‘oh no,’ that’s not going to happen,” she told WFSB.
So she dove over and forcibly removed the animal from the boy.
It hurt a lot,” she later admitted. “That’s my student. I would do anything for my students so I had to do it.”
Students at Broad Brook Elementary were forced to sit inside for the rest of the school day as a result of the 11:30 a.m. (or so) fox attack.
The fox — apparently the same one — also bit two other people about 90 minutes earlier on a residential porch in the same neighborhood.
The fate of the fox is unknown.