Man on Bear Encounter: Its One Way Out 'Was Through Me'

Pennsylvania's John Swartz is OK after bear hiding in his garage bit him on the head
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 5, 2023 11:30 AM CDT
Man Bit on Head by Surprise Guest in Garage
Stock photo of a black bear.   (Getty Images/Brittany Crossman)

A Pennsylvania man says he's paying a lot more attention to his surroundings after a surprise attack by a bear in the garage of his home. John Swartz, 60, and his wife Lori, 59, were watching TV at their home outside Danville on the evening of July 27 when he remembered he had to turn off a hose he'd left running to fill an inflatable pool, per the AP. Swartz walked into the two-car garage, where the shut-off valve was located—unaware that a bear had wandered in a minute earlier.

Swartz said the next thing he knew was that he was thrown against shelving units, heard a growl, and knew immediately it was a bear. When he turned to flee, the bear bit him on the head. Holding his injured head, Swartz stumbled back toward the house, but surveillance video later showed a second encounter with the animal. "Thankfully, the bear didn't retaliate when I tripped over him," he told Sunbury's Daily Item. His wife, hearing a scream, met him at the door and quickly called 911 as he tried to stop the bleeding. Looking out the window while waiting for the ambulance, he saw the 250-pound, tall, thin animal ambling by their RV.

At the hospital, doctors confirmed that Swartz's head injuries were superficial bite marks. His shirt, which had two large paw prints on the shoulders, was taken by a Pennsylvania Game Commission officer for DNA testing. The agency also set up a trap baited with doughnuts to try to catch the animal. "It's very understandable as to why it did what it did," Swartz told WOLF. "I surprised it ... It had one way out and it was through me." Nowadays, Swartz and his wife are much more careful around the home after dark. "We look really well before we go outside now," he said. "Especially if it's around 8:30 or later, I'm cautious."

(Read more bear attack stories.)

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