Bay Area woman battling cancer survives bear attack while visiting Tahoe

An East Bay woman survived being mauled by a bear in North Lake Tahoe over the weekend. She said she wanted to share her story as a warning to others.

Laurel-Rose Von Hoffmann-Curzi lives in Orinda, but was spending time at her family's vacation home as she battles cancer.

"I was bleeding and scared and screaming," said Von Hoffmann-Curzi as she described being mauled by a bear early Saturday morning at her second home in Tahoe Vista.

"I should be dead the way the bear swiped at my face and right here," Von Hoffmann-Curzi said as she pointed to her neck. Her injuries include a deep laceration to the cheek that required stitches, puncture wounds, cuts and bruises all over her body.

She said her injuries were treated at a hospital.

The 66-year old said she's fighting stage 4 lymphoma and was isolating in her Tahoe home when loud noises from the kitchen woke her up around 6 a.m.

She said she found a large bear by the refrigerator.

"He must have come straight at me. I have only a vision of the paw. It was dark and then I'm getting torn up," said Von Hoffmann-Curzi.

She shared with KTVU photos of a bear on her property just in June.

She said bears often break into cars and have been on her property before, but that this is the first time one has gotten inside her home.

She said she fought back by throwing a quilt at the bear and it eventually left.

RELATED: Tranquilized mountain lion demonstrated strange behavior, undergoes medical evaluation

"Anything that has a strong odor to it is really the number one thing that attracts bears to people's properties," said Captain Patrick Foy with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and that so far this year, there have been three bear attacks in the Lake Tahoe area.

Foy said people unintentionally leaving food out is a large part of the problem, "That comes in the form of garbage. Comes in the forms of food that's fallen off trees, rotten fruit, that type of thing or cat food left outside."

He said DNA samples have been collected from the victim's injuries and clothing to create a profile of the attacking bear and that a trap has been set on the property.

"If we can identify the profile of the attacking animal that we might have trapped , we can remove it and it could be euthanized," said Foy.  

"This bear's been in the neighborhood. He's not afraid of people. My screaming didn't frighten him," said Von Hoffmann-Curzi.

She said the bear left when it saw her husband and son.

She'd like to see animals that attack humans be relocated and is concerned the next mauling may be deadly.