California hiker survives mauling by bear and runs home

Dan Richmond fought off the bear and was able to make it home to his house in Sierra Madre

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The Independent US

A California hiker has described how he survived an encounter with two bears - one which towered on its hind legs in front of him and the second that leaped on his back and put his mouth around his neck.

Dan Richmond had walked about two miles on the Mount Wilson trail in the Angeles National Forest when he was confronted by a large bear in front of him.

“All of a sudden, I saw this bear standing on its hind legs and I’d never seen a bear in person before, so I was pretty freaked out,” he told KTLA. “I turn around and there’s another bear coming out towards me. At that point, I was trapped. I yelled at the top of my lungs to attempt to scare it away.”

Mr Richmond said that he began shouting as loudly as he could in the hope that the bears would run way. One of them retreated about five feet and he believed that might be his chance to escape.

Yet that was when one of the animals attacked him.

“It's hard to imagine until one attacks you and you just feel the strength of its jaws and its body,” said the 54-year-old. “He first grabbed my wrist. He actually put his mouth around my neck. And I just stayed really, really still.”

He added: “Once I knew that he was attacking me, I did not fight back. I just stayed silent. I was down on my hands and knees, and I was perfectly still because it was the only chance that I had.”

Mr Richmond the bear eventually let go of him, and at that point he began running down the mountain. Indeed, he ran all the way to his home in Sierra Madre, 20 miles north east of Los Angeles, and called for help.

Mr Richmond spoke to reporters from his bed in the Methodist Hospital in Arcadia where he was being treated for cuts, scratches and possible puncture wounds. Officials said he was in a satisfactory condition.

The city of Sierra Madre said on Facebook that the attack occurred two miles north of Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park in the area of Georgia’s Cabin, apparently referring to George's Cabin, where a historical marker sits at the ruins of an old cabin. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and officials with the Angeles National Forest are working alongside Sierra Madre police.

There are usually three or four minor bear attacks around California each year, but this was the second such attack in the same general vicinity of the Angeles National Forest in recent months, the Associated Press said.

“They typically are non-aggressive,” said Chief Larry Giannone, director of public safety for the Sierra Madre police and fire departments. “We’ve had officers that have walked right by them.”

The forest sprawls over more than 1,000 square miles of the mountain range sprawling north and east of Los Angeles. It is not uncommon for bears to make their way down into foothill suburbs.