Hiker’s Camera Captures Wild Animal That Ended Up Killing Him

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A New Jersey man met an untimely fate while hiking through the Apshawa Preserve. However, just before he met his demise, he snapped photos of his killer with his cell phone.

Darsh Patel Chilling Last Photos Capture Bear That Ended Up Killing Him
Darsh Patel (inset), a student of Rutgers University (background), was killed while hiking. (Photo Credit: Facebook via New Brunswick Today, Rutgers University)

Darsh Patel, a 22-year-old student of Rutgers University, was out on a hike through the West Milford Apshawa Preserve with four friends when he met an untimely and horrific demise, according to the New York Daily News. However, just before he was killed, Patel snapped a few pictures, and in them, he captured his killer.

As the New Jersey resident and his friends began their hike through the nature preserve, the group of five met a man and a woman at the entrance of the preserve who were leaving and told the group that a bear was aggressively following them. The couple advised the five friends to turn around, according to authorities. Unfortunately, they didn’t listen, and failing to heed the warning would be a fatal mistake for one of them.

Darsh Patel Chilling Last Photos Capture Bear That Ended Up Killing Him
(Photo Credit: West Milford Police Department)

The group continued on their hike, where they eventually laid eyes on the bear. That’s when Darsh Patel decided to snap a few photos of the lumbering, 300-pound black bear, which is seen on all fours in the series of images that were later released by the West Milford Police Department after an Open Public Records Act was filed by NJ Advance Media.

Using his cell phone, Patel snapped the images of the animal as it approached the group at a distance of about 100 feet. After capturing a few shots, the group began to walk away, but the bear followed. That’s when the unimaginable happened as Patel ended up fatally mauled and bitten, attacked and killed by the bear he had just photographed.

Darsh Patel Chilling Last Photos Capture Bear That Ended Up Killing Him
(Photo Credit: West Milford Police Department)

Police explained that, when the black bear closed the gap and got within approximately 15 feet of the group, they split up as they took off running in different directions. Patel, who lost his shoe, was last seen alive climbing a rock, where he screamed for the others to keep going, as the bear closed in on him. His four friends managed to escape and eventually called 911.

Four hours later, Patel was later found dead by emergency responders, with the bear circling his body. During a press conference following the attack, Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said officers then shot and killed the animal. The bear was first struck in the shoulder before the fatal blow was delivered to its jaw.

(Photo Credit: West Milford Police Department)

Human remains, including human hair, flesh, and clothing, were found in the stomach of the bear and in its esophagus, according to NJ.com. There was also human blood and tissue found under its claws. According to the lab results from the East Stroudsburg University laboratory in Pennsylvania, 61 percent of the contents of the bear’s esophagus was human flesh while the necropsy revealed only 1 percent of the bear’s stomach contained animal flesh.

Of course, authorities also recovered Patel’s cell phone at the scene, which not only bore the bear’s images but also a puncture from the bear’s teeth. Police add that the bear was not provoked by the group and that further lab results only deepen the mystery behind the attack since the bear was not found to be malnourished or diseased, NJ.com reported in a follow-up article.

(Photo Credit: West Milford Police Department)

Although Patel’s death was the first confirmed instance of a person being killed by a bear in New Jersey, some 60 such fatal attacks have occurred in North America over the last century, according to experts. It should also be noted that, although black bears were virtually eradicated from New Jersey by the 1960s, the animals have since rebounded to a population of about 2,500.

What a shocking reminder that, although nature is incredibly beautiful, it is also immensely fierce. While we shouldn’t shy away from an adventure because of that, we should ensure we are prepared and heed warnings when they are offered.

Darsh Patel Chilling Last Photos Capture Bear That Ended Up Killing Him
(Photo Credit: West Milford Police Department)

The New Brunswick Today provided the following safety tips from the National Park Service, which are recommended for encounters with a black bear:

  • Remain watchful and do not approach the bear.
  • Being too close may cause the bear to react aggressively by making loud noises, running towards you, or swatting the ground.
  • Don’t run, but back away slowly, watching the bear at all times.
  • If a bear approaches you without vocalizing, or paw swatting, change your direction.
  • If the bear gets closer, talk loudly or shout at it. Act together as a group if you have companions.

We are also reminded once again that no picture is worth one’s life. Had the group not stopped to capture those photos, perhaps Darsh Patel would still be alive today. Although he wouldn’t have the photographs, he’d still have the memories of the moment and, more importantly, his life.