Florida boy mauled by bear at Rainbow Falls trailhead

A bear attacked an 8-year-old Boca Raton, Fla., boy Monday night in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Park rangers killed the bear they believed responsible for the attack when it lunged at them after they arrived just minutes after the attack.

Evan Pala was taken by Gatlinburg ambulance to Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center in Sevierville for treatment. His father drove to the same facility and was treated.

Rangers said Evan Pala was playing along LeConte Creek about 300 yards up Rainbow Falls Trail from the trailhead when he was attacked twice by a bear. The child suffered non-life-threatening cuts, scratches and puncture wounds. His father, John Pala, was able to drive off the animal with sticks and rocks, but sustained some minor injuries.

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. 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 taken to the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center for a necropsy to establish that it is the bear that attacked the child.

Rainbow Falls Trail is very popular hiking trail located off Cherokee Orchard Road about 2.5 miles south of Gatlinburg.

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