Two college wrestlers suffered serious injuries after they were mauled by a grizzly bear while out hunting near Cody, Wyoming, on Saturday afternoon.
Kendell Cummings and Brady Lowry, both students at Wyoming’s Northwest College, were on a hunting excursion with two other wrestling teammates that they had separated from, according to a fundraiser created by their school.
Cummings and Lowry were west of the Bobcat Houlihan trailhead in Shoshone National Forest at the time of the “sudden, surprise encounter” with the wild animal, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said.
They were able to call 911 after the attack and met a search and rescue team at the trailhead with the assistance of their two teammates as well as a local resident and another hunter in the area.
Cummings was airlifted to a hospital in Billings, Montana, while Lowry was taken to Cody Regional Health by ambulance. After a few hours there, Lowry was also airlifted to Billings.
Both students underwent multiple surgeries in Billings. They’re expected to make a full recovery, according to the school fundraiser.
In interviews, the students said the bear appeared very suddenly and attacked Lowry first. Cummings intervened to try to pull the bear off his friend, successfully drawing away its attention.
“I grabbed and yanked him hard by the ear,” Cummings told Cowboy State Daily in an interview Monday.
“I could hear when his teeth would hit my skull, I could feel when he’d bite down on my bones and they’d kind of crunch,” he recalled.
Lowry said he owed his friend his life.
“I can’t even express how grateful I am for him,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “I don’t know what I’m going to pay him back, I don’t. I owe him everything.”
The bear had initially grabbed Lowry’s arm, shaking it until it broke, according to KSL news. Lowry curled up in a ball on the ground as the bear attacked him.
Cummings had lacerations all over his face as well as on his arm and leg from his effort to draw the bear away from his friend.
Their coach, Jim Zeigler, told Fox News they would be sitting out the rest of the season.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says there may be six to 10 bears in the area where the wrestlers were attacked, according to reports from locals.
“In the last few weeks, there has been an abundance of bear activity at low elevations throughout the South Fork and North Fork of the Shoshone River, Clarks Fork River and Greybull River drainages,” the department said. “Game and Fish encourages anyone recreating in these areas to use caution and be bear aware.”