B.C. man describes bear attack: 'I'll never forget the clamping force of the bear's jaw'
COQUITLAM, B.C. -- It’s a moment forever seared in Gil Graham’s mind.
"I’ll never forget the clamping force of the bear’s jaw on my thigh because it was so intense, so strong, enough to make you realize he could crush your leg if he wanted to,” Graham explained.
The Metro Vancouver man survived a terrifying bear attack in Northern B.C.
The bear came after him not just once but twice.
It happened May 31 at a small mining exploration camp in a remote area north of MacKenzie.
Graham says he's encountered dozens of bears in his years of working in remote areas, but never anything like this.
He was working outside to open up the camp and when he turned around, he came face-to-face with a startled black bear. He put up his hands and stepped away, but the bear followed him and attacked.
"Ears back, paws down, looking at me, I’m looking at him. Five feet of space," Graham explained in an interview with CTV News.
"He’s, pushing me to the ground... I’m screaming - top of my lungs."
Graham said at times he felt helpless: "There’s nothing you can do. Just the power of the beast."
Still, with his leg badly bleeding, Graham did what he could to fight the bear off, using his metal flashlight to hit the animal. But the bear wouldn't leave.
When co-workers tried to help him, the bear went after them too. When they sought safety in a trailer, the bear came back for Graham.
"Of course his second approach was scary because if he’d gone somewhere else on me, things would have been considerably worse," Graham recalled.
Co-workers continued their desperate attempts to scare off the bear, throwing rocks and yelling.
"My colleague got in a pickup truck, lights on, horn blaring... he backed off enough so my colleague could get the truck between me and the bear," Graham explained.
Finally, someone in the camp shot and killed the animal. It's something Graham says is sad but was necessary.
"Everybody was still at risk while they were trying to help me. So that’s how it had to turn out," he explained.
Graham was treated remotely and then flown to hospital in Prince George where he underwent two surgeries for a deep leg wound.
He says he's healing well and is grateful for the help of his colleagues and the medical staff who treated him.
Friends have set up an online fundraiser to assist with any unexpected medical expenses as he recovers. He says any money not needed by him will be donated to assist with remote medical programs or training.
Graham says after 42 years working in the back country, he had been getting ready to call it a career.
He says he probably should have retired just a little sooner.