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Mysterious death follows bear encounter in central Minnesota

VanBeek's wife Kay confirmed that there was an encounter with a bear, but preferred at this time not to give many more details, saying that the county was releasing information on the incident. In mourning the loss of her husband, she did not want to expand much except to say there were no cubs and he was not mauled. Photo Illustration

PINE RIVER, Minn. -- Rumors spread following an incident that led to the death of Edward VanBeek of Pine River on Monday, July 9, but official details may do little to explain the events.

Following his death at Essentia Health in Fargo, stories of VanBeek's encounter with a bear just before his death led to a spread of tall tales suggesting he had been mauled or trampled and then died of his injuries. Other stories said he had encountered a bear with cubs, and some interaction with the cubs may have led to the attack. Many of the details shared locally are merely exaggeration.

VanBeek's wife Kay confirmed that there was an encounter with a bear, but preferred at this time not to give many more details, saying that the county was releasing information on the incident. In mourning the loss of her husband, she did not want to expand much except to say there were no cubs and he was not mauled.

Preliminary autopsy results released by Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch only deepened the mystery, as a medical examiner determined his death was not caused by physical injury. Burch said in a phone call the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act of 1996 keep's VanBeek's health records private, but he may have had preexisting conditions that contributed to his death.

A press release from Burch's office said VanBeek encountered a bear on his property near Lake Ada on July 6 and attempted to scare it away from his yard when another bear charged him and threw him into the air. On July 8, he complained of stomach pain and called for help at approximately 10:49 p.m.. He was treated on scene and transported to Fargo, where he died.

VanBeek's wife said she wants people to show respect for her husband and what happened and she does not want exaggeration versions of the story to be shared.

"It's very emotional for me," Kay said. "I know the public wants to know what's going on but I want a little privacy right now. I have family and I just lost my husband. He was my life."

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