A black bear repeatedly mauled an 8-year-old boy Monday evening near a popular motor trail on the outskirts of Gatlinburg, and an animal matching its description was later killed by park rangers.
The boy's father also was injured while successfully defending his son from the animal, said officials with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but none of their injuries were believed to be life-threatening.
The dead bear was described as a "55-pound male yearling" that was probably born in the spring of 2007, according to park spokesman Bob Miller. Rangers were confident they'd bagged the right animal but won't know for sure until a necropsy is performed at the University of Tennessee, he said.
The incident began about 7:30 p.m. when the boy, Evan Pala of Boca Raton, Fla., was playing in a creek about 300 yards from the trailhead of Rainbow Falls Trail, which is near the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Miller said.
The bear apparently approached the boy and attacked him, was driven off and then came back for a second attack, Miller said.
"Apparently the dad was able to drive the bear off both times with rocks and sticks," Miller said. "The child sustained some puncture wounds. They're probably not life-threatening, but they're pretty serious injuries."
The boy's father, John Pala, also of Boca Raton, sustained several lacerations during the attacks. His wounds weren't as serious as his son's, and both went to Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center for treatment, Miller said. They were released Monday night, spokeswoman Amanda Brabson said.