G reat Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers are investigating a bear attack on a child that was reported at about 7:30 this evening near the Rainbow Falls Trail.
Eight year-old Evan Pala, of Boca Raton, FL was playing along LeConte Creek about 300 yards up Rainbow Falls Trail from the trailhead when he was reportedly attacked twice by a bear. The boy suffered non-life-threatening cuts, scratches and puncture wounds. The boy’s father, John Pala, also of Boca Raton was able to drive off the animal with sticks and rocks, but sustained some minor injuries himself.
The boy was transported by Gatlinburg Ambulance to Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center in Sevierville TN and the father drove to the same facility for treatment.
Based upon the father’s description of the bear and the location, Rangers went to the scene and encountered a bear that acted aggressively towards them as well. They shot the bear. They did locate a child’s shoe and a cap at the sight that they believe belonged to the family.
Park Wildlife Management personnel also responded. They described the bear as an estimated 55 pound male – probably a yearling. The animal was transported to the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center for a necropsy to establish that it is the bear that attacked the child.
No names or home town are available for release at this time.
Rainbow Falls Trail is very popular hiking trail located off Cherokee Orchard Road about 2.5 miles south of Gatlinburg TN.