British Columbia

'She was coming for me': B.C. man recovering in hospital after grizzly bear attack

Jordan Carbery had gone out to see some bear cubs in a cherry tree just steps from his home when the mother bear charged at him.

Jordan Carbery had gone out to see some cubs in a tree just steps from his home when mother bear charged

Jordan Carbery says the grizzly tackled him to the ground, wrapped her jaws around his head and picked him up with her mouth. (Jakub Moravec/Shutterstock)

A park ranger is grateful to be alive after a terrifying grizzly bear attack outside his home in Bella Coola, B.C.

Jordan Carbery said he woke up early Tuesday morning and saw something moving outside his house, so he went to investigate. 

He said he saw some bears in a cherry tree. At first, he didn't realize they were cubs, until one of the young bears crashed to the ground. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the mother bear charging toward him.

"She had her eyes locked on me and she was coming for me," recalled the 50-year-old from his hospital bed in Vancouver on Sunday.

"I instantly turned and tried to get back to the house. I was only 40 feet out of the house. All of a sudden I just got tackled from behind and sent flying," he said.

The grizzly wrapped her jaws around his head and picked him up with her mouth. His scalp ripped and he fell to the ground, so she picked him up again by the thigh and right buttock, he said.

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

Carbery said the bear picked him up and dropped him a few more times before he found himself lying on his side. 

He started kicking the bear in the face as hard as he could, he said, before he managed to push himself up and tried to swing at her with his fist.

"She moved like a prizefighter boxer. She ducked her head to the side and I missed," he said.

"I tried to hit her again and she moved the other way, a quick, sudden move — that was the thing that gave me a little bit of space."

That bit of distance allowed him to run back into the house. He had a torn scalp, a chest laceration, deep puncture wounds in his buttocks and leg, and a wide gash across his abdomen. 

No choice but to drive himself to hospital

Carbery had dropped his phone in the melee and, regardless, has no cell service at the home he rents in Bella Coola. He also has no landline, and had no choice but to drive himself to the hospital.

The bear charged at him one last time as he staggered to his vehicle, but Carbery made it behind the wheel and spent the 10-minute drive trying to prevent himself from passing out.

It was so early in the morning that he said he had to buzz the front door of the hospital several times before a nurse appeared — stunned at the sight of the man with blood gushing from his head and abdomen.

He was later transferred to Vancouver General Hospital, where he underwent surgery for an umbilical hernia and continues to recover. He hopes to be discharged in a few days.

Feeling 'fan-freaking-tastic'

Carbery said he feels "fan-freaking-tastic."

"She could have easily taken out my eye. She could have easily ripped my jugular out. She could have ripped my guts wide open and poked holes in my intestines. But none of that happened," he said.

Conservation Officer Service Inspector Len Butler says Carbery is lucky to be alive, but that the attack by the bear was defensive, meaning the sow just wanted to protect her cubs.

"It's not any type of predatory attack. It's wrong place, wrong time," he said.

Butler says the sow and her cubs took off from the area and haven't been seen since, so it's unlikely they will be destroyed. 

Carbery said he does not blame the grizzly.

"I was so relieved that they weren't going to destroy the bears," he said.

"It was me dropping my guard in grizzly country, which you can never do. I did it because I was so close to my house. I learned a big lesson."

Butler says there is a high concentration of grizzly bears around Bella Coola — up to eight in the area. He says there are many fruit trees as well, which attract bears.  

The CSO advises people put electric fences around the trees to keep bears away.

With files from Rhianna Schmunk.

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