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Evidence Suggests Bear Killed 22-Year-Old RU Student on Hiking Trip

Body of Rutgers Senior From Edison Found in Wooded Park After Hiking Trip in West Milford
Darsh Patel
Darsh Patel, a 22-year-old Rutgers senior, was killed by a bear this weekend in a Passaic County nature preserve. Facebook

WEST MILFORD, NJ—According to a statement released by West Milford Chief Timothy C. Storbeck, 22 year-old Rutgers University student Darsh Patel, was killed on Sunday from a bear attack at the Asphawa Perserve in Passaic County.

Patel is the second Rutgers student killed this weekend.  A 19-year-old female from South Brunswick was pronounced dead at Robert Wood Johnson hospital following a small gathering at a College Avenue fraternity.

Patel, who resided in Edison, and five others were hiking through a wooded area of West Milford when a black bear began to follow the group, causing them to run in different directions.

The group called police at 3:45pm, after they reconvened and could not locate Patel.

At about 5:45pm, when the West Milford Search and Rescue unit found Patel’s body, "evidence at the scene indicated that the victim had been attacked by a bear," Storbeck said.

The Passaic County Sheriff’s Division, Passaic County CSI, and West Milford First Aid Squad and Fire Department Corporation 1 assisted with the search.

A bear was found nearby and was euthanized.

The West Milford Police Department and Department of Environmental Protection are investigating Patel’s death.

According to the National Park Service, the following safety tips are recommended for encounters with a black bear:

  • Remain watchful and do not approach the bear. Being too close may cause the bear to react aggressively by making loud noises, running towards you, or swatting the ground.
  • Don’t run, but back away slowly, watching the bear at all time.
  • If a bear approaches you without vocalizing, or paw swatting, change your direction.
  • If the bear gets closer, talk loudly or shout at it. Act together as a group if you have companions.

The National Park Serivce has been safeguarding US national parks since 1916, according to their website.

More information on Black Bears and safety is available at the National Park Service website.