Alaska Man Survives Vicious Brown Bear Attack: “Crushed My Right Cheek”

A brown bear walking in the woods
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Brown bears are the most terrifying animal on the North American continent.

Polar bears may be larger in size, but encountering an angry grizzly intent on inflicting fatal damage is a literal nightmare for any body who spends time in the great outdoors.

Nowhere in North America are these browns more prevalent than in Alaska. The bears are a major tourist attraction for several National Parks and Preserves. Unfortunately anytime you have humans and wild brown bears co-existing on the same landscapes conflict tends to occasionally arise though.

An Alaska man is lucky to be alive after his recent run in with a brown bear left him alive but with life altering injuries.

Allen Minish was surveying land for a real estate deal in a forested part of Alaska when he looked up from his GPS to see big boy staring him down.

He recounted the experience in an interview with CBS News.

“I saw him and he saw me at the same time, and it’s scary.”

According to Minish, the bear had his entire head in its jaws at one point.

The attack left him with a crushed jaw and a puncture wound in his scalp all the way down to the bone. The repair job those lacerations to too many stitches to county and a 4½-hour surgery. He also is wearing a patch over his right eye and recovery of his vision is questionable.

He was surveying land just off the highway almost 200 miles outside of Anchorage.

He said the terrifying bear encounter only lasted 10 seconds. Probably the longest 10 seconds of his life though.

He didn’t get a good look at the bear, but he knew at a glance it was way bigger than the biggest black bears he’s seen. He tried to dodge for cover behind some spruce trees but the big bear shred right through the branches.

The charging bear knocked him to the ground and then chaos ensued.

“He lunged up on top of me, I grabbed his lower jaw to pull him away… but he tossed me aside there, grabbed a quarter of my face.”

“He took a small bite and then he took a second bite, and the second bite is the one that broke the bones … and crushed my right cheek, basically,” 

“I was like, ‘Holy s—, this is a big bear, it’s still very vivid in my mind.”

But he said there was a lesson learned in this ordeal:

“The one lesson learned. I should have had somebody with me.”

After the bone crushing bite, the bear dropped him on the ground and wandered off into the woods.

Minshew recalls finding himself aware that he was covered in blood and in bad shape. He has had his fair share of bear encounters over the last 40 years while he’s lived in Alaska, but the 61 year old immediately knew this one was different.

“I realized I was in pretty bad shape because I had all this blood everywhere.”

His worry then turned to thought of the bear coming back to finish him off.

He left his gun in the vehicle on this job but said it wouldn’t have mattered because the bear moved on him too fast for it to have been any use. He also joked that can now proudly add his name to the list of six people he knows who have been mauled by bears in Alaska.

He was able to bandage the wounds with his shirt and relay his GPS coordinates to a rescue crew. After waiting an hour for their arrival and losing a dangerous amount of blood, rescuers tried to carry him through the woods to a nearby access road.

That didn’t work, and so he had to walk a quarter mile through swamps, brush and trees. From there, he was taken by ambulance and subsequently airlifted by helicopter to a hospital in Anchorage.

Despite the shocking attack, he is in shockingly good condition. Although he has had trouble sleeping and lingering nightmares related to the attack but he’s in good spirits and relieves the stress of the situation by making jokes about it now.

“In all honesty, it wouldn’t have mattered either way. You know, if it killed me, it killed me. I had a good life; I’m moving on. It didn’t kill me, so now let’s move on to the other direction of trying to stay alive.

And it was just, wrong place, wrong time for me and the bear. And everything happened so fast.”

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