It is sad. As dedicated hikers we (a good proportion anyway) have pondered, researched and perhaps even experienced critter interactions and are more likely to do the right thing should we ever encounter it. But as we've all witnessed countless times, most folks just "out for a walk" haven't clue one, and bolting away from a big bear is just what a lot of them will do.
All that said it's still shocking that it happened, since it wasn't the classic "between mama bear and cub" scenario. Have read wildlife biologists describing "punk" bears--usually overly aggressive adolescent males--that act out of the norm. If I ever see a (black) bear following me, I'm going to assume it's not a typical bear and prepare for the unexpected. (Step 1: bring change of underwear.)
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
My understanding from reading several articles on this incident is that the group first ran when they saw the bear--always a mistake with any predator, which will naturally follow--and then split up--so two big mistakes here.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
I read an article in Backpacker magazine that was written, or at least interviewed, by one of the renowned bear experts. He basically said that there weren't any (maybe he said not many) bear attacks on groups. The only incidents that come close were when groups split up and the bear is one on one with each person of the group.
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Well there was that one group of teens (seven of them) in Alaska, but there may have been extenuating circumstances there. They think that:
1) It was raining, so the bear may not have heard them approaching. 2) The leader of the group came around a bend in a creek bed and surprised the bear before the others were visible. 3) The bear had a cub with her.