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Woman mauled by bear drives to hospital: ‘I could die here' or walk 1.5 miles

Woman mauled by brown bear drives herself to the hospital after walking over a mile to her car.
Woman mauled by brown bear drives herself to the hospital after walking over a mile to her car.
Wikimedia Commons

A 57-year-old woman remembers thinking “I could die here,” during a gruesome bear mauling, which left her with severe injuries. Once Thomas escaped the bear’s fury, there was another major obstacle in her way before she could get help, according to Yahoo News on Aug. 13.

Hiking on the Heney Ridge Trail in Cordova, Alaska, which is in her home town of Cordova, Thea Thomas was with her two dogs. Her dogs ran ahead, but came back fairly quickly and in another few seconds she understood why, they were being chased by a brown bear.

This bear was full-grown and stood about six to seven-feet tall on its hind legs, recalls Thomas. The bear lunged at her and bit her about seven times, with the severest injuries to her back and inner thigh. All she could do to fend him off is ball-up in the fetal position and protect her head and neck.

As reported by Mail Online, at one point the bear walked away, but came back when he saw Thomas try to get up, stopping her from doing so. She said that the feeling she got from the bear that it was out to get revenge. It was once the bear calmed down that she was able to get up and just walk away.

She wasn’t bitten in any of her internal organs luckily, but she did receive a horrific mauling from that bear with bites on her limbs and torso. Once away from the bear she knew she needed emergency medical attention, but there was only one problem, the car was over a mile away, 1.5 miles to be exact.

Thomas had hike a long way into the woods and her vehicle was a mile and a half away. She set out for her vehicle and through the pain she made it. She then drove herself to the nearest hospital. This is Alaska and it is rural, so she wasn’t near one of the bigger hospitals, which were more equipped to handle her severe injuries.

The staff at the hospital commented on just how calm she was when she walked in severely injured. The hospital staff was more frazzled than she was just examining her injuries. She was airlifted to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, about 150 miles from where she was mauled.

She is recovering and is feeling better every day. Her deep wounds are expected to take some time to heal and she will probably need plastic surgery after they do.

What about the two dogs?

One of the dogs was hers and the other dog is owned by her friend. She had taken them for a long hike in the woods for the exercise. The salmon were running in the stream where the dogs most-likely came upon the bear and the creature was defending its food source, suggest the wildlife experts.

While Thomas was making that long and painful walk back to her vehicle in the woods, she found one of the dogs on the trail and the other was waiting by her vehicle, so both dogs are fine after making it out of the woods.

The trail has been closed for a week and there are no plans to go after the bear. “The bear was just being a bear” and protecting its food source. Thomas will never go into the woods again unarmed without a whistle, a spray, a gun or a horn, she conveyed from her hospital bed in Anchorage.