Family plans memorial for Patton, Mo. native killed by bear - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Family plans memorial for Patton, Mo. native killed by bear

Richard White of San Diego was a native of Patton, Mo. Richard White of San Diego was a native of Patton, Mo.
(KFVS/AP) -

The man killed by a grizzly bear in Alaska has Heartland ties.

Park rangers say 49-year-old Richard White of San Diego was killed after taking pictures of the bear on Friday.

"His method of travel was not on a tour group," Byron White, his father," said. "His method of travel was show up at the airport and start walking. He would go live with people in a village for 2 or 3 weeks and learn the people."

School leaders in Meadow Heights say White grew up in Patton, Mo. and went to school at Meadow Heights.

"He knew about camping," White's father said. "He knew about survival techniques. He knew about all this from the time he was 10 years old."

White's parents, who still live in Patton, are on their way to California to be with his wife and young daughter.

"His daughter was his greatest pride," White's father said.

Rangers with the Denali National Park say it appears the bear attacked White by a river Friday and dragged his body into the woods.

They say it's the first known bear mauling death in the park's history.

About 200 square miles of Alaska backcountry terrain where White was mauled to death by a grizzly bear remained closed Sunday as investigators continued to piece together what happened.

Weather permitting, rangers at Denali National Park were planning to recreate the steps taken by 49-year-old Richard White, of San Diego, before he was attacked Friday afternoon near the Toklat River, park officials said. Before the attack, White photographed the male bear for at least eight minutes from a distance of 50 to 100 yards.

The weather was poor Sunday, with low clouds and rain contributing to low visibility. Park spokeswoman Kris Fister said that when the weather allows visibility, park pilots will fly over the area to look for other backpackers believed to still be in the general vicinity or heading in that direction. Fister said rangers might also go on foot to alert - not evacuate - the party believed to still be there.

The photographs in the recovered camera show the bear grazing and not acting aggressively. Spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin said the bear did not even appear aware of the hiker until the final photos, which show the animal looking toward the camera.

A few hours after the attack Friday, hikers stumbled upon White's backpack roughly 150 yards from his remains, McLaughlin said. The hikers also spotted blood and torn clothing, and immediately hiked back and alerted staff park.

Rangers in a helicopter spotted a large male grizzly bear sitting on the hiker's remains, which they called a "food cache" in the underbrush.

A state trooper fatally shot the bear Saturday. The bear's stomach contents were examined and found to contain remains and clothing that confirmed it was the animal that killed White, Fister said Sunday.

White's remains were recovered Saturday evening and were sent to the state medical examiner's office in Anchorage.

There's no indication that the man's death was the result of anything other than a bear attack, according to investigators. The attack is the first known fatal mauling in the park's nearly century-long history.

White had been in the Denali backcountry for three nights under a five-night permit and may have recently hiked in other areas of Alaska, park officials said. It was unknown if he had previous backcountry experience in Denali, but he indicated he had multiple years of backpacking experience, Fister said.

UT San Diego reported Sunday that White was the director of exploratory pharmacology at Ferring Pharmaceuticals until last year and was switching to a new job, according to the hiker's father, Byron White. The father, who could not be reached by The Associated Press, said his son liked hiking alone in remote places and enjoyed the wilderness. Byron White said his son had been to Denali at least once before.

Fister said overnight permits are not being issued for about 200 square miles in the area of the attack, where about a dozen different bears have been spotted over the summer. She said rangers personally delivered the news about the closure to others in the area who might not have heard about the attack. Day backpackers, who do not need a park permit, also are being notified as they arrive, and there are closure signs in the area, Fister said.

Before backpackers obtain a permit, they receive mandatory bear awareness training that teaches them to stay at least a quarter-mile away from bears, and to slowly back away if they find themselves any closer. Richard White had received that training, according to investigators.

Denali is located 240 miles north of Anchorage. It spans more than 6 million acres and is home to numerous wild animals, including bears, wolves, caribou and moose.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  • Heartland NewsMore>>

  • First Alert: Partly cloudy, lower temps

    First Alert: Partly cloudy, lower temps

    Saturday, July 21 2018 9:37 AM EDT2018-07-21 13:37:34 GMT
    Rainbow this morning in SIkeston. (Source: cNews)Rainbow this morning in SIkeston. (Source: cNews)
    Rainbow this morning in SIkeston. (Source: cNews)Rainbow this morning in SIkeston. (Source: cNews)

    Lisa Michaels says today will have mostly sunny skies in our western counties and partly cloudy in our eastern counties.

    Lisa Michaels says today will have mostly sunny skies in our western counties and partly cloudy in our eastern counties.

  • FIRST ALERT ACTION DAY was issued Friday due to threat of severe weather

    FIRST ALERT ACTION DAY was issued Friday due to threat of severe weather

    Friday, July 20 2018 11:46 PM EDT2018-07-21 03:46:10 GMT
    A First Alert Action Day has been declared for today, July 20 due to severe weather. (Source: KFVS)A First Alert Action Day has been declared for today, July 20 due to severe weather. (Source: KFVS)

    A First Alert Action Day was issued for Friday, July 20 due to the threat of significant severe weather late in the day and into the evening.

    A First Alert Action Day was issued for Friday, July 20 due to the threat of significant severe weather late in the day and into the evening.

  • New soybean tariffs worry Heartland farmers

    New soybean tariffs worry Heartland farmers

    Friday, July 20 2018 10:21 PM EDT2018-07-21 02:21:49 GMT
    Soybean tariffs are affecting Heartland. (Source: KFVS)Soybean tariffs are affecting Heartland. (Source: KFVS)
    Soybean tariffs are affecting Heartland. (Source: KFVS)Soybean tariffs are affecting Heartland. (Source: KFVS)

    As soybean tariffs go up in this escalating trade war, farmers profits are going down.

    As soybean tariffs go up in this escalating trade war, farmers profits are going down.

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Ticket mix-up put family on ill-fated Missouri tourist boat

    Ticket mix-up put family on ill-fated Missouri tourist boat

    Saturday, July 21 2018 12:18 AM EDT2018-07-21 04:18:54 GMT
    Saturday, July 21 2018 9:37 AM EDT2018-07-21 13:37:34 GMT
    (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel). People pray outside Ride the Ducks, an amphibious tour operator involved in a boating accident on Table Rock Lake, Friday, July 20, 2018 in Branson, Mo.(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel). People pray outside Ride the Ducks, an amphibious tour operator involved in a boating accident on Table Rock Lake, Friday, July 20, 2018 in Branson, Mo.

    More than half of the 17 people killed when a tourist boat sank on a Branson lake were members of the same Indiana family, and they likely wouldn't have been on the ill-fated trip but for a ticket mix-up.

    More than half of the 17 people killed when a tourist boat sank on a Branson lake were members of the same Indiana family, and they likely wouldn't have been on the ill-fated trip but for a ticket mix-up.

  • SC dentist has ladies flocking for teeth cleanings after 'In My Fillings' challenge

    SC dentist has ladies flocking for teeth cleanings after 'In My Fillings' challenge

    Friday, July 20 2018 1:53 PM EDT2018-07-20 17:53:18 GMT
    A South Carolina dentist has officially won the Drake-inspired  "In My Feelings" challenge and the ladies of the internet are letting it be known that they must go to the dentist immediately. (Source: Constantine Dental/Facebook)A South Carolina dentist has officially won the Drake-inspired  "In My Feelings" challenge and the ladies of the internet are letting it be known that they must go to the dentist immediately. (Source: Constantine Dental/Facebook)
    A South Carolina dentist has officially won the Drake-inspired  "In My Feelings" challenge and the ladies of the internet are letting it be known that they must go to the dentist immediately. (Source: Constantine Dental/Facebook)A South Carolina dentist has officially won the Drake-inspired  "In My Feelings" challenge and the ladies of the internet are letting it be known that they must go to the dentist immediately. (Source: Constantine Dental/Facebook)

    A South Carolina dentist has officially won the Drake-inspired  "In My Feelings" challenge and the ladies of the internet are letting it be known that they must go to the dentist immediately.  

    A South Carolina dentist has officially won the Drake-inspired  "In My Feelings" challenge and the ladies of the internet are letting it be known that they must go to the dentist immediately.  

  • Family: 2 victims killed in Branson duck boat accident from Mid-South

    Family: 2 victims killed in Branson duck boat accident from Mid-South

    Saturday, July 21 2018 7:05 AM EDT2018-07-21 11:05:14 GMT

    At least two of the 17 victims killed after a duck boat capsized and sank in Branson, Missouri, from the Mid-South. 

    At least two of the 17 victims killed after a duck boat capsized and sank in Branson, Missouri, from the Mid-South. 

Powered by Frankly