June 19 (UPI) -- A black bear mauled and killed a 16-year-old who was participating in an Alaska mountain race, Alaska State Troopers and a race official said.
Troopers said a police dispatcher in the city of Soldotna received a report of a possible bear mauling near the Bird Ridge Trail north of Girdwood at 1:19 p.m on Sunday.
Several agencies responded, including a U.S. Forest Service ranger, an Alaska State Park Ranger, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center and Anchorage emergency services.
"A short time later, law enforcement located the juvenile who was deceased from injuries sustained during the bear mauling," the troopers said in a statement. "The juvenile's body was transported from the scene and his next of kin was notified. Investigation is ongoing."
The teenager was a participant in the 29th annual Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb, race director Brad Precosky said.
"This is the worst thing that could happen," Precosky told the Alaska Dispatch News.
A Chugach State Park ranger shot the bear in the face but it ran away.
Alaska officials are working to determine why the bear attacked the teenager. Chugach State Park ranger Tom Crockett said the black bear was alone and is estimated to weigh 250 pounds.
Officials were trying to locate and kill the wounded animal. Crockett said reports of bears are not common in Bird Ridge, adding that no bear sightings were reported in the area last week.
"It did definitely take a slug strike to the face when the ranger fired on it. We know he struck it," Crockett said. "This young man didn't do anything wrong. He was just in the wrong place. You can't predict which bear is going to be predatory."