British Columbia

Grizzly bear attack survivor speaks to media for first time

"I went into a ball and she chewed on my shoulder, and she opened my throat up right into my mouth."

'I went into a ball and she chewed on my shoulder, and she opened my throat up right into my mouth'

Ralph Smith shows off some of the damage a grizzly bear did to him when he was attacked in September. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

man from Kamloops, B.C., who survived a grizzly bear attack near Sparwood is speaking publicly about the incident for the first time.

In mid-September, Ralph Smith startled a bear sow with cubs when he was hunting elk in the brush.

When he saw the bear, she was just only about a metre away from him. The encounter lasted less than a minute, but left him with blood pouring from his head and neck.

He says the bear missed his jugular vein by less than half a centimetre.

"She hit me in the throat and the head, knocked me down. And I went into a ball and she chewed on my shoulder, and she opened my throat up right into my mouth," Smith said.

He says there wasn't anything else he could do to protect himself.

Ralph Smith says the grizzly's attack on his head and neck came less than half a centimetre from hitting his jugular vein. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

"If it's at the point that they're coming at you, you don't even have a chance to get your gun up and shoot because they're there so fast. It's instant," Smith said.

He said he walked out of the bush to a logging road, where a motorist picked him up.

Smith said he was then taken by helicopter to hospital in Kelowna, B.C.. It took more than 90 staples and stitches to close the wounds.

Still, the attack hasn't deterred Smith from his hunting lifestyle.

"Oh I've already been out six or seven times since," he said with a laugh. "I don't have a problem with grizzly bears. They're one of my favourite animals, actually."

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