Cancer-fighter woman survives bear attack in her North Lake Tahoe home

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Huge “thunk” noises from the kitchen woke Laurel-Rose Von Hoffmann-Curzi at about 5:30 a.m. on Saturday.

She thought it was just her son, but the light coming from the freezer revealed a large bear, SFGATE reported.

Things happened fast and before she knew it, a huge paw was already swiping at her.

“The next thing I knew, I saw the big paw and nothing else. I was just being torn out,” Hoffmann-Curzi, from Orinda, said. The bear appears to want to maul her again after the first attack. She screamed and screamed, waking up her son and husband who came immediately and scared the animal off.

The bear went out through the unlocked door in front of the house – the same door it used to enter.

Hoffmann-Curzi said the bear might have smelled the avocados in the kitchen shelf, and it knew there were people inside. The family’s other food supplies are stored properly.

“Our place is meticulously set up to prevent bears,” the woman said.

A bear spotted near Hoffmann-Curzi’s cabin in North Lake Tahoe in the summer of 2021. 

The bear attack left Hoffmann-Curzi with face injuries thus she was brought to a local emergency facility. She also suffered lacerations to other parts of her body.

“I really, truly should be dead,” she said, adding that she survived because her son and husband came very timely.

Apart from the animal attack she survived, Hoffmann-Curzi is fighting a separate battle – a Stage 4 Lymphoma affecting her infection-fighting cells. She sought refuge in her North Lake Tahoe home as she does not believe that the COVID-19 vaccine is effective for her to prevent getting infected because of her condition.

Bear intrusions are not new to her, as she already heard some of them in Tahoe.

“I love wildlife. I love bears,” she said. “But there are bad bears, just like there are bad people. And bad bears need to be relocated, they need to be taken away.”

The animal attack was put under investigation by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Patrick Foy from the agency said.

“We try to get to the victim as quickly as possible, before the physicians clean the wounds,” he said. “Our objective is to swab into the actual bite wounds or scratch wounds to identify microscopic traces of DNA from the offending animal. What that helps us do is later identify if we can remove that attacking aggressive animal.”