A 12-year-old Michigan girl thought she was “a goner” after a black bear attacked her twice as she jogged near her grandparents’ home last week.
Abby Wetherell was jogging on a trail in Cadillac, Mich., Thursday when she was mauled by a black bear that weighed several hundred pounds. After the second attack by the same bear, Abby played dead before the bear walked off.
She sustained deep gashes and puncture wounds to her thighs and back. Abby needed more than 100 stitches to close her wounds.
“I was thinking, I shouldn’t have went for this jog. I was thinking, this is it, I am a goner,” Abby told ABC News Sunday in a telephone interview.
The attack took place around 9 p.m. local time when Abby said she noticed the bear out of the corner of her eye. She picked up speed as the bear chased her through the woods.
“I see this bear. Oh, my gosh. I start running the way I was coming from,” she said. “All of a sudden, the bear stopped me and put me down on ground, scraping me and clawing me.”
Abby said that the bear eventually stopped attacking her and that was the moment she decided to get up and make an escape. But the bear came back.
“So I was, like, petting it. I don’t know where that came from. But, I just thought maybe if I petted it, it would like me,” she said. “Well, that did not work so, then it just got me again.
“And then I heard that you should play dead. So that’s what I did,” she continued. “And then it kind of went away and then it looked back and then it just took off.”
Abby remained lifeless until the bear finally disappeared back into the woods. She started running toward her grandparents’ house screaming and crying for help.
Abby’s dad, Chris Wetherell, who was in the area, was in “shock” after he learned his daughter was attacked by a bear.
“I didn’t believe it was a bear attack until I saw the claw marks and the bruises and it was horrible,” Wetherell said.
In addition to the gashes and puncture wounds to Abby’s thighs and back, the seventh-grader suffered cuts to her face.
“When the bear was attacking me, I couldn’t feel it,” she said “I was just numb. I don’t know how or why but my whole body went numb and when I started getting up it hurt bad.”
Abby was taken by helicopter to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Mich., where more than two hours of surgery were needed to treat her injuries. Abby is finishing her recovery at home and says she’s determined not to let her run-in with the bear haunt her.
“It’s over. But, I’m not going to go in the woods without anybody,” she said. “I’m OK and I’ll be all right.”
Abby is one of at least six people who have been mauled by bears in five states in the past week.
The attacks on hunters and hikers come just before the start of hibernation season, as hungry bears search for food before settling in for winter. But the number of bear attacks is up across the country.
In Yellowstone National Park alone, there have been 64 percent more attacks so far this year than there were last year.