New Jersey hiker captured photos of bear minutes before he was attacked and killed

Twenty-two-year-old Darsh Patel, who was mauled to death in New Jersey’s Apshawa Preserve earlier this fall, snapped five photos of an approaching black bear just moments before he was fatally attacked.

Police in West Milford released the photos last week following an open records request by The pictures were found on Patel’s phone, which was recovered near his body after the attack. The phone was also marked with punctures from the bear.

Patel, a Rutgers University student, was hiking with five of his friends about 70 km outside of New York City when the group encountered a black bear. According to a report by, they had been warned about the bear by another pair of hikers who had been followed by the animal for 10 minutes before it retreated. Despite the potential danger, Patel’s group continued their hike. When they encountered the bear, they stopped to take photos of it from what they felt was a safe distance.

Here are just a few of the images that were recovered from Patel’s phone:

HIker Bear Pic 3 Hiker Bear Pic 2 Hiker Bear pic 1

When the 300-pound bear started to advance, the group panicked and ran, heading in different directions amidst the chaos. Patel was the only one missing when everybody re-grouped. His body was found four hours later by emergency responders.

After the incident, the bear was tracked and destroyed by police. The Police and the state Environmental Protection Department told the Associated Press that it exhibited very unusual “stalking-type behaviour.”

While black bear attacks on humans are considered rare, hikers in the Lake Tahoe area had to be warned about taking “selfies” with the bears fishing Taylor Creek during this year’s Kokanee salmon run, and this unfortunate incident is a great example of why it’s not advised.