Camping Nightmare: Teen Wakes To Bear Chewing His Head

‘The crunching noise, I guess, was the teeth scraping against the skull as it dug in.’

Black Bear
Black Bear; photo by Jitze Couperus licensed via CC 2.0

It’s the dead of night, you’re asleep under the stars—suddenly there’s a loud crunch. No, it’s not a breaking branch, but the sound of a bear biting down on your skull. That nightmare scenario came true for one Colorado camper last week.

The 19-year-old wilderness survival instructor at a Christian summer camp woke up to the gruesome sound of a bear chewing his head.

Dylan, identified by first name only, has already been admitted and released from the hospital, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer Jennifer Churchill told Denver’s 7News.

According to the 7News report, Dylan and four other camp staffers were outside in sleeping bags by the lake at Glacier View Ranch in Boulder County early Sunday morning. Around 4 a.m. the unthinkable scenario unfolded: Dylan woke up to a bear biting and tugging at his skull.

“It grabbed me … and pulled me,” he told Denver7. “Then it bit the back of my head and drug me.”

Dylan estimated the bear dragged him by the head for 10-12 feet while the other staffers tried to scare it off. According to the 7News report, the bear “eventually left on its own.”

The bear escaped capture following the incident, but did not attack other campers at the campsite, Glacier View Ranch director Dan Hansen told Denver7. According to KDVR, Parks and Wildlife officials near Ward, Colo., were “pretty confident” today they captured and put down the black bear they believe was responsible.

A necropsy examining the bear and samples of Dylan’s clothing will confirm within a week whether it is the same animal, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said.

Bad Year For Bear Attacks

The attack is the latest in a season already marked by fatal bear encounters. Last month, black bears were responsible for two deaths in Alaska. Twenty-seven-year-old Erin Johnson was killed by a bear June 19th while she collected soil samples in Pogo Mine outside of Fairbanks.

The day before, a bear chased and mauled 16-year-old Patrick Cooper to death while he was running a trail race near Anchorage.

Bear Kills Alaska Teen During Trail Race

The 16-year-old victim texted his family that he was being chased by the bear during the race. Read more…

Despite Sunday’s incident, 7News reported it obtained a press release from camp director Hansen confirming the camp will remain open through July 16 and stating “campers were not threatened or involved at any time.”

For his part, Dylan feels confident sleeping outside and staying on as a survival instructor at the camp.

“I’m not afraid of the bears. I’m not afraid of sleeping outside anymore. You just have to be aware and respect the animals,” he said.

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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie – from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it’s outside, it’s worth doing.

Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.

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