'Luckiest son of a gun around' heads home after grizzly attack

Jordan Carbery is celebrating, despite suffering a ripped scalp and a chewed abdomen. He knows it could have been worse.

WARNING: This story contains a graphic image

Jordan Carbery, right, with a visitor, recovering in Vancouver General Hospital from a bear attack. (Jordan Carbery/Facebook)

Jordan Carbery is celebrating, despite suffering a ripped scalp and a chewed abdomen.

He knows it could have been worse.

The park ranger from Bella Coola survived an angry grizzly bear attack on July 3 and after 14 days at Vancouver General Hospital he's heading home to Bella Coola, B.C.

"I've felt better, but I'm the luckiest son of a gun around so I can't complain too much," said Carbery from his hospital bed.

He wants to be back near wilderness for his 50th birthday on the 26th.

"I'm not a city guy," he said.

Grizzly bears can run faster than Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt, hitting top speeds of 56 kilometres or 35 miles per hour when they want to. Jordan Carbery photographed this bear near Bella Coola B.C., before he was attacked on July 3 near his home. (Jordan Carbery/Facebook)

He says he tried to keep the nurses and doctors laughing while in surgery — to keep his own spirits up after the traumatizing attack outside his home.

And he's being wary of signs of PTSD as he can't stop thinking about July 3 when a massive grizzly sow charged him.

"It's always on my mind," he said.

"When you see them run like that ... they are so much faster than we give them credit for."

In a Facebook post, Carbery said he had "lots of injuries but [was] glad to be alive." (Jordan Carbery/Facebook)

Carbery hopes to go through some healing ceremonies and work to overcome his fears about returning to the property where the predator attacked.

"There's a lot of blood I'm sure up and down the stairs," said Carbery.

Volunteers picked all the fruit so it's safer, and collected video that revealed eight bears frequent his yard.

Carbery said some people are blaming him for what happened and he admits he made some mistakes.

The attack

Carbery had just returned from a week-long trip the day before the attack.

He knew there was a cherry tree near his yard, but didn't realize the fruit had ripened and grizzlies had marked out their territory around it and other hidden fruit trees in the nearby bush.

The next morning he went outside with his camera.

He'd just snapped an image of the sow when it happened.

"It's such a silly thing and normally I'm so careful," he said.

Jordan Carbery plans to be a lot more careful photographing grizzly bears in the future after one turned on him earlier this month and almost ended his life in Bella Coola, B.C. He took this image near the town where he is a park ranger. (Jordan Carbery/Facebook)

A smaller bear — probably a cub — fell from the tree.  He said that the snapping branch startled the sow who turned and charged him.

"Normally, there's some lip smacking and some huffing sounds to warn you. But she just ran full tilt at me and I knew I was done," he said.

Carbery almost got to his door when the bear hit him, and he went flying.

"Instantly she's on me. Grabs me by the skull," he said.

The bear tore his scalp and then bit his abdomen and tossed him, he said.

He started kicking her in the eye as he lay on the ground.

"This was it. I was fighting for my life," he said.

She attacked again, so he pounded her snout.

That enabled him to get close enough to his door — to rush back inside.

Holding his gut with one arm, he said he was oblivious to the fact that half his ear and scalp was missing as he searched for car keys then ran back outside.

Jordan Carbery was attacked in Bella Coola on July 3 by an angry grizzly sow who ripped off part of his scalp. (Jordan Carbery/Facebook)

She charged again, but he made it to the car and drove 10 kilometres to the hospital with blood streaming into his eyes.

He was transferred to Vancouver General Hospital and underwent surgery for an umbilical hernia and torn flesh.

On Tuesday, he learned he can go home as soon as a flight is organized.

He plans to do a video-diary of his return. He's not sure how he'll react to seeing a live bear again.

The sow who attacked was not killed, as her actions were deemed defensive.

"I wholeheartedly agree with that," said Carbery.

But he's not sure he wants to see her again.

Jordan Carbery misses his home in Bella Coola and the old growth forest, as he says he's not a 'city guy.' But he's not sure what it will be like to return to the scene of the grizzly bear attack that almost killed him. (Facebook/Carbery)

About the Author

Yvette Brend

Yvette Brend is a CBC Vancouver journalist. Yvette.Brend@CBC.ca @ybrend

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