A Canadian athlete was killed in an apparent bear attack while running on a training course outside Quebec City.
The body of Mary-Beth Miller, 24, was discovered late Sunday in the heavily wooded area just northwest of Quebec City, police Capt. Johanne Bournival said. She had a bite mark on her neck, and black bear tracks were spotted near the body, which was found about a half-mile from the main road.
“At first sight it seems she was attacked by a bear,” Bournival said. She said bears are common in the area, but are usually shy and seldom attack people.
“When they see people they go into the woods,” she said. “Nothing like that happens.”
“She was the most precious thing in our lives, and we’re having a heck of a time here,” her mother, Mary Carol Miller, said Monday from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. “She taught us all to live each day, each moment.”
Miller, who started her run at 9 a.m., was reported missing by her trainer at 11 p.m., Bournival said.
An autopsy will be conducted Wednesday, said Sarah Coup-Fabiano, a spokeswoman for the Haute-St-Charles Police Department.
“The autopsy will confirm whether the bear was the exact cause of death or whether she had a heart attack or something before and the animal found her injured,” Coup-Fabiano said. “It’s just a hypothesis, but it’s our belief that the bear was responsible.”
Training May Be Moved
Miller, of Yellowknife, was a member of Biathlon Canada, the national biathlon association. She had arrived at the Valcartier military base last week for a summer of training at the Myriam Bedard Center. She had competed for Canada in international competition, and won a bronze medal at the North American biathlon championship last year in Canmore, Alberta..
Officials at the center have scaled back training and may have to move some athletes to another facility until their safety can be assured. Some athletes at the center are training for the Olympics.
“All I can say is that my heart is with her, her mom, her dad, her brother and her sister, and my deepest sympathies to them,” said Daniel Lefebvre, coach of the Canadian biathlon team. “I cannot even imagine what they’re going through. It must be a complete shock for them.”
Meanwhile, wildlife officials placed several cages around the area in an effort to find the bear. The Canadian base closed the trails until further notice.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.