KAYSVILLE, Utah – A Kaysville family encountered a bear while camping over Father’s Day weekend in New Fork, Wyoming, and the young children were alone when they found the beast near their trailer.
The Kelly family prepared breakfast Sunday morning, cleaned up and went to church. Later, when several of the children ran ahead of the family to get back to camp, they found a bear rummaging through their food.
"When we got to the trailer that we had, which was maybe about 12 feet long, I was at the front of it and the bear was at the end,” Baden Kelly said.
The bear was just feet away from 11-year-old Baden and his 7-year-old sister, Mariah. Baden said he sprang into action.
"I yelled, ‘bear!’ and I told Mariah to run, she didn't, so I grabbed a rock and I threw it at the bear's head,” he said. “It didn't do anything, so I ran to Mariah, picked her up and carried her."
Kamila Kelly said she and her husband heard about the bear before they made it back to the campsite.
"We were headed back there when two staffers came running up saying there was a bear in camp, and that we needed to get back to the lodge,” she said. “And we told them that we had three kids, presumably in the direction they had just came from."
Brandon Kelly said he reacted immediately.
"As an instinctive father I just grabbed my stuff and ran in the direction of the bear,” he said.
But the Kelly children were on their own when the bear started to chase them.
"I was scared because of Mariah and she's just little, she wouldn’t have been able to fight for herself,” Baden said. “So I had to make a choice and do that.”
Baden said the bear chased him and his sister for 30 or 40 feet. He said his older brother, Logan, came out of a nearby cabin and began shouting at the bear, which slowed down. Another man came out and began yelling at the bear while radioing for help. The bear was chased away.
"I saw the camp staff bringing Mariah up, and she jumped into my arms and said that, 'Logan and Baden saved my life,'” Kamila Kelly said.
Brandon Kelly said he is proud of his boys after the incident.
“He is definitely a hero, both of our boys are heroes today,” he said.
Rangers tracked the bear and found it had been getting into several other campers’ food for the last few weeks. The bear started to charge the rangers, who had to put the bear down.
Despite the frightening encounter, Baden said he isn’t done camping.
"I love camping, I love the outdoors, it's just the experience,” he said. “It's something that can make you stronger."
Department of Wildlife Resources officials said the best thing campers can do to keep bears away is make sure they don't leave food out in the open.