A bear attack Sunday night in Eastpoint left a teenager with serious injuries to her face and legs. Leah Reeder’s family says she’s doing much better and resting after surgery Sunday night.
But residents say the number of bears in the area has gone up, and another attack could end tragically.
One moment Leah Reeder was walking to her mother’s house in Franklin County. The next moment, she was being rushed to Bay Medical Sunday night.
“This part right here was just rolled open. She got tooth marks on top of her head. Bite marks on her arms and legs. And I never saw her back, but they say she got a huge scratch right down her back,” Leah’s grandfather Howard Reeder said.
A huge scratch caused by a bear where it attacked her in a ditch around 6 p.m. along Barber Street. During the attack, her family says the 15-year-old tried to play dead so the bear would stop. Instead, it began to drag her away.
“Her little dog saved her life. For whatever reason, that little dog was able to scare that bear off. Either the little dog bit him or scared him, spooked him off,” said Reeder.
Since the attack, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has set up four traps to catch the bear.
“We have not been successful in catching a bear yet, but, you know, the trapping effort will continue,” said FWC Spokesman Stan Kirkland.
Kirkland says this attack is the first bear attack in the history of Northwest Florida.
But locals say bear sightings have become all to common and the next attack may end differently.
“We’ve responded to a number of the complaints. We’ve provided technical assistance. We’ve done sight visits, but there are bears. We know there are bears coming into the area,” explained Kirkland.
As for Reeder, she has undergone surgery and is recovering.
“She was more calm than I would have thought after the terror she went through right down here in this ditch,” said Howard Reeder.
With the surgery complete, her family expects only minor scarring left on her face from the attack. No word on when she will be released from the hospital.
FWC officials say if you happen to come into contact with a bear, it’s best to retreat to a car or building. And if you are attacked, they say fight back and do not play dead.