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Man whose face was mauled by bear tells how he survived: ‘I had to dig debris out of my airway’

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A man left severely crippled after a vicious grizzly bear attack has shared his incredible story of survival in the hopes it can help others who find themselves in a similar situation.

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That attack happened in 2011, but Wes Perkins, 65, still bears the scars of a terrifying encounter with a ferocious animal in the mountains of Alaska. Interviewed by YouTuber Danny Rose for a short film released last month, Mr. Perkins, a former fire chief in the city of Nome, detailed the attack.

Mr. Perkins went on a hunting trip with his friend, Dan Stang, and Stang’s son, Edward.

The trio had been tracking a “good-sized bear” and went around the hill hoping to find it, but before they could hunt it down, the animal emerged from a hole it had dug and surprised Mr. Perkins. done.

The bear charged Mr. Perkins, breaking his teeth, tongue and jaw, before being subdued and eventually killed by Mr. Stang and his son.

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To survive, Mr. Perkins instinctively removed dirt from his fresh wounds and was then airlifted to receive medical care.

“I basically had my airway open and when I lost all but my tongue, jaw and a few teeth, I had to dig debris out of my airway,” Mr Perkins explained. newsweek,

“So telling myself to act and never to close my eyes or faint was the main focus.”

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Mr Stang said in the short documentary that the bear also tried to attack him, before his son joined in by firing shots at it.

Meanwhile, Mr. Perkins remained aware of his surroundings and even managed to speak with his friends while waiting for help. Per Mr. Stang’s advice, Mr. Perkins buries his face in ice to numb the pain.

Mr. Stang then radioed for help, and it was Mr. Perkins’ brother who answered the call and helped dispatch responders. When help arrived about an hour later, Mr. Perkins was able to walk himself inside the helicopter.

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He was initially taken to a hospital in Nome and then to Seattle.

“I have helped others my whole life, and never thought I would be on the receiving end of things, but the Fraternity of Nome, my brothers in the fire service from Seattle, Anchorage, Nome, came out to support and fundraise me and helped me through this recovery,” explained Mr. Perkins. newsweek,

Mr. Perkins said in the film that he now helps families of bear attack victims better understand and navigate the process of recovery.

“What I’ve been able to do (I’ve) been able to tell them is that it takes steps,” Mr. Perkins says in the documentary about the family of one survivor who reached out to him.

“If he’s alive now, he’s going to make it. And so, just to confirm that eventually, he’ll have a somewhat normal life.”

Mr. Perkins also said that although his own journey has not been easy, a decade after the attack he is still seeing improvements and reaching milestones.

“I (now) am able to swallow a full-size vitamin that I couldn’t swallow five months ago, I would choke on that,” he said.

“People who don’t see me but know me, say year after year, ‘Wow, you talk better’ … I was lucky enough to learn to talk again.”

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