The Upshot

Washington man survives bear attack — in his own driveway

Few people survive to describe being attacked by a bear. John Chelminiak of Washington is one of the lucky ones.

As Chelminiak explained in an interview on NBC's "Today" show, he was out walking with his dogs at the end of the driveway at his family's cabin on Lake Wenatchee when he noticed something watching him from the nearby bushes. Then he heard the sound of claws scraping against the concrete and the heavy breathing of the 150-pound black bear as it launched out of the brush to attack him.

Chelminiak -- a city councilman in Bellevue, Wash. -- said a "horrendous fight" ensued.

"We hit, we went down, I got back up, she got back on top of me, I was trying to push her aside," he said. "I just vividly remember being bitten on the head, and the sound that makes as her teeth were going into my head and running along the skull."

Watch Chelminiak and his wife talk about the bear attack:

His wife called 911 and Chelminiak -- along with his dogs Boji and Peek-a-boo -- eventually were able to escape the bear's clutches after it was spooked by lights from a motion detector. While waiting for paramedics, Chelminiak's wife stayed with him on the driveway and made noises to keep the bear away. The animal was reported to be pacing back and forth by the road when the emergency personnel arrived; it was later killed by state authorities.

Chelminiak lost an eye in the attack and had several parts of his face and scalp ripped off. Thus far, doctors have performed six surgeries to patch him back up again.

While it should be noted that bear attacks are rare, a Montana woman also recently found herself as prey for a black bear. She too survived the incident, thanks to a 12-inch zucchini from her garden, which she used to whack the bear in the head, spooking it into scurrying away.

View Comments (0)