John Chelminiak was walking down his driveway with his two dogs on their leads, about to go along the roadway when he heard the nearby bushes rustling. He said he heard the bear exhale, just before she ran straight at him. The bear and he smashed down onto the road together and proceeded to "wrestle" each other.
He said, "She was clawing on me and I was trying to push her off."
When he was able to break away from the bear, he ran up the driveway with his dogs still in tow. Within a couple minutes, the bear came around the corner and pounced on his dogs. Chelminiak was able to pull the dogs out from under the bear though, but it then became a battle of survival with the bear viciously biting and clawing him.
Chelminiak said: "I felt that if I went down on the ground and I got turned over on my back and she had a chance to go for either a neck or the abdomen that I was probably dead. So what I wanted to do was stay up.
"So every time she would get on me and claw and bite and knock me down, what I would try to do is just force my way back up, and try to keep her behind me."
He said he vividly remembers being bitten on the head and the sound it made as her teeth went into his head and along his skull.
He remembers her tearing skin and having it come down in front of his right eye, and her hitting him in the left eye, which exploded in a "bright flash of light".
"It was just a horrendous fight," he said.
He doesn't know why the bear finally left him, but he said when he tried to get up, his legs collapsed. He knew he was covered in blood, knew he had a great deal of flesh torn off of him, and he felt he was dying.
"I think with the extent of the injury, it's a miracle I made it through," Chelminiak said.
He ended the interview with The Seattle Times by saying, "I'm feeling good. I'm feeling better than I look."
The Seattle Times
reported that the animal was a 150 pound female black bear that regularly raided unsecured garbage cans along the area of Chelminiak's cabin. She was later killed by Fish and Wildlife officers.
It is believed that Chelminiak's wife, Lynn Semler, was the one who scared the bear off, saving his life. She was inside the cabin with their 11-year-old daughter when she heard noise outside, and then her husband yelling for someone to call 911.
After calling the medics, Semler went to find her husband, staying with him until the ambulance showed up.
"When Chelminiak first arrived at the hospital, he had nerve damage from deep lacerations to his face, with pieces of flesh and scalp hanging off his head, said Dr. Matthew Klein, a University of Washington Medicine plastic surgeon at Harborview. Chelminiak also suffered a cut on his neck so deep it reached his spine. He had wounds to his abdomen and lower body, and the injuries to his face were so severe doctors removed his left eye."
Chelminiak has no plans to stop using his vacation cabin in the woods and looks forward to returning there.
He also plans on getting a T-shirt that says, "I won".