GILBERT Ariz. -- A Gilbert woman was mauled by a black bear while walking her dog in Pinetop late Tuesday night.
The attack occurred near Sports Village Loop in the Pinetop Country Club approximately 60 yards from a Dumpster where the adult male bear had been scavenging, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Officials said the bear returned to attack the 61-year-old victim more than once.
"I just heard this blood-curdling scream," said David Chavez, who was sleeping. He jumped out of bed and ran outside to witness the attack.
"I tried to scare the bear away with the car, lunge at the bear with the car, I was honking, flashing my lights," Chavez said.
The bear ran up a tree, but returned to attack the victim two more times before Chavez eventually chased it into the woods.
Lana Hollingsworth sustained serious injuries and was flown to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center where she underwent surgery. She was reported to be in serious condition.
Dogs were brought in to track the animal and quickly encountered a bear within a couple hundred yards of the site. The bear was immediately killed.
"This was an especially aggressive, unprovoked attack that reminds us that wildlife can be unpredictable," said Larry Voyles, director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "This was a predatory attack and the animal was considered extremely dangerous. The department had to dispatch it for the public's safety."
Results of DNA testing confirmed that the bear was the one responsible for the attack. A rabies test carried out by the Arizona Department of Health Services came back negative.
It was presumed the bear was startled and protecting the trash it had been scavenging.
Bear attacks on humans are rare with only six cases documented in Arizona since 1990, which is as far back as the department’s database tracks.