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California Woman Survived Bear Attack in Tahoe Vista Home

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  • A 66-year-old California woman who is battling cancer survived a bear attack in her Tahoe Vista cabin. 
  • She sustained multiple serious injuries but is healing quickly and expects to make a full recovery. 
  • Laurel-Rose von Hoffmann-Curzi hopes that others will hear her story and take preventative measures.

A 66-year-old California woman survived a confrontation with a bear in her Tahoe Vista cabin and is speaking out about the attack to warn others of the dangers that bears present. 

Laurel-Rose von Hoffmann-Curzi, a 66-year-old woman from Orinda, California, who is battling stage 4 lymphoma, was awoken early Saturday morning to the noise of “loud thumping” coming from her kitchen. 

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Much to her surprise, when she approached the noise, the light from the open freezer shone on a bear who was eating its way through her ice cream supply. 

“The minute I recognized [the bear] was the minute he probably recognized that I was there,” von Hoffman-Curzi told Insider. 

“In a flash, I was just being attacked.” 

“I couldn’t see what was coming from where,” she continued. “I just saw his big paw as it started to come toward my face and I was just being torn everywhere.” 

Her piercing screams got the bear to back off and woke up her husband and son who were asleep on the other side of the house. As the bear retreated back down the stairs to the main floor of the house, von Hoffman-Curzi was able to grab a quilt hanging from the banister and throw it on her attacker. 

Laurel-Rose von Hoffman-Curzi's kitchen

The bear ate through Laurel-Rose von Hoffman-Curzi’s supply of ice cream in her second-floor freezer.

Laurel-Rose von Hoffman-Curzi


Before turning its back on von Hoffman-Curzi and her family and letting himself out the front door of the cabin, the bear gave them one last look. 

“This is not normal bear behavior,” von Hoffman-Curzi explained. “It’s unusual for them to enter occupied houses.” 

Von Hoffman-Curzi explained that while her front door was locked, the deadlock was not turned on, which made it easy for the bear to let himself in. She believes he must have smelled fresh avocados — which he ate, too — on the second floor of her home, which prompted the break-in. 

She sustained multiple injuries, including a puncture wound in her abdomen and multiple gashes on her face, which took several layers of sutures to repair.

“It seemed like I was dripping blood. My face had been torn up rather badly,” she recalled.  

Laurel-Rose von Hoffman-Curzi

Laurel-Rose von Hoffman-Curzi sustained multiple injuries on her face, neck, chest, back, arms, and abdomen.

Laurel-Rose von Hoffman-Curzi


Von Hoffman-Curzi has been diligent about keeping all trash and food outside of her home in a bear box because she said bear sightings in the area have become more prevalent in recent years. She also noted that she had just arrived the night before, so there was no fresh food, besides the avocados, or trash.

When she and her husband bought their second home back in 2004, von Hoffman-Curzi said she never saw any bears in residential areas. 

In the last few months alone, her neighbors reported multiple instances of bears breaking into cars in the neighborhood, though they never went into homes before. 

Von Hoffman-Curzi said local authorities have been helpful in working diligently to prevent this from happening again. Almost immediately, a representative from the Fish and Wildlife Service was on the scene to take DNA samples from the eaten avocados and to set a bear trap to ensure they can catch the correct predator. 

The family does not feel safe returning to the cabin until that happens, though, because, von Hoffman-Curzi said that once a bear knows it can enter a home to get food, it will do it again. 

The prognosis of her wounds is promising and she is healing rapidly, but she is completely aware of the severity of the incident.

“He should have killed me,” she said. “It was dumb luck that I wasn’t injured worse.” 

Von Hoffman-Curzi hopes that when others hear her story, they will take preventative measures to avoid this happening to them. 

“These are wild animals. Even though they come close, they should be treated as [such],” she said. 

She is also hopeful the “bad bears” in the area will be removed so it becomes safer for residents: “I hope we see this through to capturing this bear.”

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