Talk about being frightened and embarrassed at the same time.
A California man found himself ambushed by a bear in rural Midpines, California after stepping out of his home to reach his outhouse. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 66-year-old Vietnam veteran Larry Yepez fought with the bear and suffered injuries to his head, legs, arms, abdomen, hands, and feet. Despite these injuries, Yepez was able to fight off the animal and drive himself to a local hospital.
“I could feel the blood running out of me,” Yepez told The Washington Post. “That’s when I decided, ‘I’ve got to fight, man.’”
When it comes to fighting, Yepez said he has experience. The decorated Marine veteran was wounded in Vietnam, where he was awarded a Purple Heart after being shot twice in a firefight.
“I put my feet underneath his belly and kicked him, and the bear flipped backwards, but then he jumped back up,” Yepez told ABC 7. “I was doing everything I could to try to get him off of me.”
Wildlife officials believe that the bear was rummaging through his garbage when Yepez came out. The attack was likely instinctual, but authorities say the severity of the encounter is worrying. Unable to overpower the bear, Yepez improvised a weapon from a nearby flower pot, smashing it over the animal’s head and using the broken pieces to slash at his assailant. However, the bear returned the blows and Yepez realized that this might not be a fight he could win. His small Yorkshire terrier appeared at just the right moment and distracted the bear long enough for them to get inside the house. Yepez later scared the bear off and was able to reach his car.
Wildlife officials said they are currently investigating the case and will be searching for the bear involved in the attack. If found, the bear will be euthanized.
“The bear was not in the vicinity when investigators arrived, but tracking dogs will be used to follow its scent. Due to the severity of the attack, and the need to collect forensic evidence from the bear, it will be humanely destroyed when found.” the agency wrote in a press release.
Yepez, who also served in the US Forest Service as a firefighter, said he has seen a fair amount of bears of the years. This is the first time he has had to fight one.
You can see an interview with him below: