British Columbia

'Thought I was a goner': B.C. man punches grizzly to survive attack

Randal Warnock says the attack occurred on a remote island on the Central Coast

Michelle Ghoussoub - CBC News

July 21, 2017

A B.C. man said he was attacked by a juvenile grizzly like this one, which was photographed on the Central Coast of British Columbia. (Jeremy Koreski)

A 57-year-old man from Qualicum Beach, B.C., is recovering at home after being attacked by a juvenile grizzly bear on a remote island north of Port Hardy.

Randal Warnock said he set off from Cortes Island on his 40-foot boat Monday morning. 

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After around six hours of sailing, he hit rough weather and decided to anchor his boat in Millbrook Cove.

He says he then jumped into a 14-foot aluminum skiff and headed to Brown Island to stretch his legs.

Warnock said he was walking along the rocky beach and taking pictures for his Instagram account when he saw a juvenile grizzly bear charging him.

"He was probably on me in about two seconds," he said.

"When I first saw him charging at me it just sort of went through my head, 'Is this how it's all going to end?' I thought I was a goner."

Randal Warnock said he feared for his life when he saw the bear charging. (CHEK)

'Didn't have time to be scared'

The bear began mauling his legs, shaking him violently. 

Warnock said he concentrated on staying on his feet, and attempted to grab a knife he had in his back pocket when suddenly, he saw his chance to defend himself.

"He was shaking away and I had an opportunity — I punched him as hard as I could in the nose and he just sort of stepped back two feet in front of me and was looking at me."

Warnock said he then grabbed a piece of driftwood and hurled it at the bear, which disappeared into the forest. 

"I didn't really have time to be scared," he said, adding that he didn't feel any of the pain from his injuries as he hobbled the 15-minute walk back to his skiff, glancing over his shoulder to see if he was being followed.

Back aboard his main boat, Warnock patched up his legs using first aid supplies he had on board, travelled for around an hour until he had a clear radio transmission, then called the Canadian Coast Guard. 

Warnock then sailed for two more hours until the coast guard arrived to help him, eventually dropping him off at the Port Hardy hospital around midnight.

He got 30 stitches on his legs and fingers and is currently using crutches to move around, but is expected to make a full recovery. 

"It was weird to remember it. It was like I was remembering a cartoon on fast forward," he said. 

"I beachcomb a lot for pleasure. I'll be more cautious from now on."

Warnock received 30 stitches on his legs and fingers following the attack. (Courtesy of Randal Warnock)
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