The owner of a southern Alberta trail company and campground says his son ran down to the Ghost River to save a woman who lay bleeding after a bear with cubs attacked her and another hiker.
STARS Air Ambulance said it transported a 25-year-old female patient in stable condition to Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary after it was dispatched at 12:30 p.m. to the Waiporous area for a “bear attack-related injury.”
Richard Blair said his 25-year-old son, Coleman, was on his way to deliver a load of hay to the campground when he saw the attack down a hill near the river.
“He noticed in the river bottom…two people being chased by a grizzly,” Richard Blair told Global News. “The bear got the woman down…and was dragging her around, so he jumped out of the vehicle.”
Coleman told Global News from what he could tell, the bear bit the woman’s arm.
“I saw someone jump in the river and someone else basically get knocked into the river by a bear and the bear was chewing on her… She was terrified, crying, had no idea what was going on.”
He said the couple told him they were sleeping and woke up to find the bear basically on top of them.
Cochrane RCMP said they received a call at about 12 p.m. Tuesday to help EMS near the Trapper’s Hill campground, then referred the investigation to Alberta Fish and Wildlife.
Fish and Wildlife said they believe the couple had bear spray on them but weren’t able to use it because of how quickly the animal attacked. Coleman’s father was proud of how fast his son jumped in to help.
“My real-time conversation with him was that the boyfriend, he was gone, but the girl was laying there bleeding and the bear was literally across the Ghost River about 30 yards away with two cubs.”
Blair said his son chased the bear off of her, then brought her back up the hill. He said they called Kananaskis rescue crews, and Fish and Wildlife along with RCMP responded.
Blair said it happened about three kilometres from the campground itself. Blair runs the Trapper’s Hill Lodges and Lazy H Trail Company, which is an adventure training centre for the British military about eight kilometres away.
“I feel good the lady didn’t get hurt and I’m happy my son didn’t get his ass handed to him,” Blair said. “I hope the bear can get moved out of the area with her cubs.”
Officials have vacated campgrounds in the vicinity, taped off the area where the attack happened and closed down the access road while the investigation continues.
Fish and Wildlife Inspector Ron Wiebe said they have collected DNA from the sow in hopes of identifying the bear.
The department is trying to determine whether the mother acted defensively, and said it will take into consideration that the bear has two cubs while deciding what should be done with her.
With files from Global’s Tony Tighe and Sarah Offin