Polar bear attack survivor played dead to save his life
Maine lawyer Matt Dyer says he 'was prepared to die' after attack in Labrador park
An American hiker who survived a polar bear attack in a park in Newfoundland and Labrador in July and spent weeks in a Montreal hospital says in his first public comments about the ordeal that he was prepared to die before pure "instinct" saved his life.
Maine lawyer Matt Dyer, 48, was hiking with seven others as part of a Sierra Club trip to Torngat Mountains National Park in northern Labrador this summer when he was pulled by the bear from his tent.
Parks Canada said the animal managed to pass a portable electrical fence and drag Dyer in the early morning of July 24.
Dyer was mauled by the bear, but was dropped after the other group members fired flares to scare off the animal.
In an interview with Maine's Portland Press Herald, Dyer said he was ready for his time to come.
"And, you know, you're kind of talking to yourself ... 'Yeah, well, I suppose it has to happen to everyone ... this is your time,'" said Dyer.
"And I wasn't panicking. I was just being still. I wasn't fighting, I was just waiting ... waiting for it to happen."
Lawyer still needs weeks to heal
Dyer said it was pure instinct that saved his life.
"He dropped me, just like that I was dropped on the beach. I wasn't in any excruciating pain. I think your instinct is to do what these animals do — and that is to play dead. I think that in many ways that saved me."
Luckily, there was a doctor in Dyer's hiking group who was able to assist him immediately after the polar bear was out of sight.
Rick Isenberg got Dyer into a tent and treated numerous puncture wounds and stabilized broken bones.
Parks Canada staff dispatched a helicopter, and from there, Dyer was transferred to a hospital in northern Quebec.
Physicians then placed him into a medically induced coma, in preparation for the trip to Montreal General Hospital, where he remained for several weeks.
According to the Portland newspaper, Dyer faces a long recovery at home in Turner, Maine.
It's estimated that his jaw, which was broken in the attack, will take six to nine months to heal completely. He also has two cracked vertebrae, a collapsed lung, and injuries to both hands. Dyer is hoping to have a neck brace removed this week. Dyer's speech and movement are also still affected.