A man who was severely disfigured after a brutal bear attack shared his incredible story of survival in hopes of helping others who find themselves in a similar situation.
The attack happened in 2011, but 65-year-old Wes Perkins still bears the scars of a terrible encounter with a grizzly bear in the Alaskan mountains. Perkins, a former fire chief in the city of Nome, who interviewed Youtuber Dannie Rose for a short film released last month, detailed the attack.
Mr. Perkins was on a hunting trip with his friend Dan Stang and Stang’s son Edward. The trio were tracking a “good-sized bear” and circled the hill hoping to find it, but before they could hunt it down, the animal emerged from a dug hole and surprised Mr. Perkins.
The bear attacked Mr. Perkins, causing him to lose his teeth, tongue and jaw before being subdued and eventually killed by Mr. Stang and his son. To stay alive, Mr. Perkins instinctively cleaned the mud from his new wounds and then took off to seek medical care.
“Basically I kept my airway open and had to dig through the debris in my airway when I lost my tongue, jaw, and all but a few teeth,” Perkins said. news week. “So telling myself to do my job and never close my eyes or lose consciousness was the main concentration.”
Mr. Stang said in the short documentary that the bear tried to attack him and that his son shot him before joining him.
Meanwhile, Mr. Perkins was aware of his surroundings and even managed to talk to his friends while waiting for help. As Mr. Stang advised, Mr. Perkins buried his face in the black to relieve 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 get into the helicopter himself.
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 my brothers at the fire station from Seattle, Anchorage, Nome, the Nome fraternity came to raise support and donations for me and helped me through this healing process,” said Mr. Perkins. news week.
Mr. Perkins said the film now helps the families of bear attack victims to better understand and guide their recovery process.
“What am I [am] In the documentary about a survivor’s family that reaches him, all he can do is let them know that these are stages,” says Mr. Perkins. “If he’s alive now, he’ll make it. And so, to reaffirm that he will eventually somehow have a normal life.”
Mr Perkins also said that while his own journey was not easy, he continued to see progress and reach milestones ten years after the attack.
“I [now] “If I could swallow a full-size vitamin that I couldn’t swallow five months ago, I would choke,” he added. “People who don’t see me but know me say ‘Wow, you speak better’ every year… I was lucky to be able to learn to speak again.”