Strange Bear Encounter in Cass County Leaves Family Looking for Answers

July 12, 2018 10:25 PM

Claw marks scar a tree in Kaye Van Beek’s yard, left behind from the bear she said knocked her husband into the air and onto the ground last week.

“He was hysterical,” she said of her husband when he told her of the attack. “Breathing hard, just really panicky. I said, ‘Ed, what’s wrong? What happened?’ And he said, ‘Kaye…a bear attacked me.’”


Ed Van Beek died Monday after suffering a heart attack three days after the bear encounter. He was 70.

RELATED: Bear Killed After Wandering into Recreation Area Near Lake Minnetonka

“We don’t know if it was caused by the bear or not,” she said. “It’s still under investigation.”

Neighbors said Ed Van Beek told them he saw one bear sniffing around the trash can outside of his house, but he didn't see the second bear hiding behind his parked car outside the garage.

RELATED: Police: Bear Spotted in Chaska

“It charged him,” Kaye said. “It went between his legs and just threw him in the air.”

“Ten feet, about 6 feet up, he said,” neighbor and friend Bruce Rauma recounted. “He was startled ... trauma, hurt…I’ve never seen the guy this way.”

Rauma helped Van Beek scare the bear away.

RELATED: Brainerd Bear Visits Family's Backyard Twice in One Day

“He was terrified,” he said. “I mean, he was crying.”

And it’s far from the only bear sighting in the area this summer.

“The last two years now, we’ve had quite a few sightings,” said Dave Smith, another neighbor who lives near the Pine River area.

RELATED: Black Bear Visits Goodhue County Sheriff's Office

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said the Brainerd Lakes area has experienced a lot of human-bear interactions the past several years.

Cass County is considered ‘Bear Country,’ so the DNR doesn’t track sightings - only phoned-in complaints.

RELATED: Black Bear Spotted in Burnsville

So far this year, there have been 18 Cass County bear-related complaint calls to the DNR.

Last year at this time, there were 37.

“I believe after the bear attack, his body could not handle the shock and trauma,” Kaye Van Beek said.

Although preliminary reports don’t connect the bear to the reasons behind Ed’s death, Kaye isn’t convinced. And she said she’ll continue warning her neighbors and friends to keep watch.

“I’m lost. He was my life,” she said. “He was my life and now he’s gone.”


Katherine Johnson

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