Bear Attack Victim Talks

A 14-year-old Texas boy bitten by a bear that entered his tent was recovering Wednesday while state wildlife officers looked for the animal.

Keelan Patton of Pampa, Texas, and a 12-year-old cousin, Brenden Rice, were sleeping at a campground near Coaldale when a black bear barged into their tent about 1 a.m.

Patton's mother, grandmother and sister were sleeping in a nearby camper.

After a brief scuffle, the bear took off. The boy was treated for the bite, scratches and bruises and released from the hospital.

"I woke up in pain, the pain just kinda woke me up. And I woke myself up screaming," Patton

The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen Wednesday. "As soon as I could, I got to the other side of the tent as fast as I could as soon as he got off of me.

"I think I punched him once or twice," Patton said with a chuckle.

Patton says he was left with "a jaw mark around my head. I have a scratch (on my right temple). And, on my hand, I have an inch-and-a-half, two-inch gash. I had 24 stitches. And I have a bite mark on my arm."

Rice told Chen he "woke up to (his cousin) screaming and punching. So, I was just trying to help him."

And Patton's mother, Jana Patton, told Chen, "We were all asleep, because it was about 1:30 in the morning. I woke up to blood-curdling screams. I jumped up and ran outside, and went straight to the tent. By the time I got to it, I could tell it was Keelan that was screaming and not Brenden, because I wasn't sure at first.

"He was screaming and holding his hands up. I wasn't real sure what was wrong with him. I started shaking him. And then I could tell that he had blood on him. So we just went into the camper and tried to figure out what happened, because we weren't real sure. So we got in and kind of saw where the blood was coming from and everything. It was pretty scary."

Colorado Division of Wildlife officers searched for the bear, which would be killed if found. Division spokesman Mike Seraphin said officers found paw prints around the tent and Patton described other identifying features of the bear.

Jim Aragon, area wildlife manager, said Patton "did everything right."

"He fought back and was able to fend off the bear," Aragon said.

Seraphin said there was no food in the tent that would have attracted the bear. The boy said he wanted to see the bear if it was caught.

Bears and people have been clashing more in Colorado lately as the animals have begun rooting around for berries and acorns so they can fatten up for hibernation. In Aspen and Snowmass Village, bears have broken into about 20 houses the past week.

Bears that cross paths with people are relocated, but ones that attack people don't get a second chance.

Seraphin said campers need to keep the area clean and store food in coolers in the trunk of a car or suspended from a tree, at least 10 feet from the ground. Garbage should be put in bear-proof containers.

Coaldale is about 15 miles southwest of Denver.