Saskatchewan

'I just thought it was the end': Woman survives bear attack in northern Sask.

Caught in the mouth of a bear, Casadi Schroeder was prepared to die. The bear had clamped its teeth around her leg, and it felt like he was ripping her skin to the bone, when Schroeder felt a sense of peace overcome her terror.

Casadi Schroeder escaped with 34 staples in her legs and her life

Casadi Schroeder (left) says her family is recovering after a bear attacked her at Meadow Lake Provincial Park during a camping trip last weekend. (Submitted photo)

Caught in the mouth of a bear, Casadi Schroeder was prepared to die.

The bear had clamped its teeth around her leg, and it felt like he was ripping her skin to the bone, when Schroeder felt a sense of peace overcome her terror.

"I'm a Christian and I said, 'You know what Jesus, I'm ready to go.' And I just thought it was the end, actually."

Camping trip gone wrong

The 33-year-old woman and her family had been camping in Jeanette Lake in Meadow Lake Provincial Park last weekend. She and her husband were guest speakers at the Bethel Gospel Camp, and were to talk about their previous missionary work in Thailand.  

They had first seen the bear on the night of their arrival, when her eight-year-old son pointed the bear out to her, standing just metres away from the family.

"I slowly walked over to my two-year-old son and picked him up, and backed away," she said, noting that others at the camp were able to chase the bear away, pelting it with rocks.

On Sunday morning, her son woke the family up with news the bear had returned.

"Noah, calm down," Schroeder recalled telling her son, as she got up in her pyjamas to go to him. "The bear is gone, they scared it away. It's OK. It's not coming back."

She was wrong.

She saw the bear pushing against the front door. The bear then ambled over to a side window and started tearing through the screen.

"His claws just ripped through it like nothing," she said, recalling her husband made a banging noise to scare it away.

Kids nearby in tent

Once the bear left, Schroeder found herself worrying about others at the campsite, including kids nearby in a pop-up tent, with no way to warn them of the impending intruder.

"Honey, I think I'm going to go out there," she told her husband.

As she made her way down the campsite, Schroeder said she caught sight of the bear at the campsite kitchen window. It turned to look at her.

The black bear was trying to get into the camp kitchen, just before attacking Casadi Schroeder, who was walking by to try to warn others nearby of the intruder. (Submitted photo)

"I was trying to back away as he was walking toward me," she said. "All of a sudden, he just ran. I actually don't remember; he was so fast. Like, I blinked and he was right in front of me."

The bear grabbed hold of her, shaking her body with its strong grip while she screamed.

"All I remember is his teeth, ripping into my legs. Like, he would bite and then tear, bite and then tear all over my legs."

That's when Schroeder gave herself over to the inevitable, thinking if the bear grabbed her neck, she was done.

While both her legs were subject to the bear attack, Casadi Schroeder said nearly a week after the incident, the wounds were beginning to heal. (Submitted photo)

Last-minute rescue

From the cabin, her husband and two older children watched the attack in horror.

"As soon as I saw the bear charge, then I just took off running," said her husband, Brad Schroeder. "You don't really think; you do what you can."

He came at the bear with his fists and bare feet, punching and kicking until the bear gave way, before screaming a one-word instruction — "Run!"

Claw marks and bruises can be seen on Casadi Schroeder's leg, after she was attacked by a bear last Sunday. (Submitted photo)

Somehow, Casadi got to her feet and ran to a nearby cabin, banging the door until the people opened the door and let the couple in.   

Her husband then made an attempt to get back to his other children, alone in their family's cabin. While the bear slashed at him and clawed his hip, he was able to make it back.

Bruises and 34 staples now grace her leg, but Casadi said her doctors told her if the bear had wreaked the same damage above her waist, she would be looking at life-threatening injuries.

The family is now recovering in Lanigan, Sask. (Submitted photo)

A bear has since been caught, and the couple said tests are being run to check if it is the same bear that launched the unrelenting attack.

As she recovered from the incident, Casadi said she was glad to be healing and still able to walk, and that no one else was seriously injured.

"I just feel incredibly grateful."

With files from CBC Radio's The Afternoon Edition