Pa. woman who survived bear attack feels lucky to be alive
FILE- In this July 25, 2014 file photo, a black bear is seen at the Maine Wildlife Park in New Gloucester, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
(Muncy) — A woman who survived a bear attack outside her Pennsylvania home has left the hospital and says she feels lucky to have survived.
“I shouldn’t even be here,” Melinda LeBarron told PennLive.com by phone Tuesday from her Muncy-area home. “It blows my mind.”
LeBarron, 50, was released last week from Geisinger Medical Center, where she was taken after the Dec. 12 attack about 165 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
“I’m trying to get my body back to where it was” after injuries to her head, hip and shoulder, she said. She is using a cane while walking.
LeBarron said the bear attacked after she went out her back door for a smoke with her dog — who is named Bear. A Pennsylvania Game Commission representative said earlier officials believe the bear was a sow with cubs and attacked after the dog barked at them.
LeBarron, who said she never saw any cubs, said the bear took her down quickly, and she fought back, but the animal “was more powerful than I was.” The bear bit her and rolled her nearly 90 yards, she said.
“I don’t know what she was thinking. She let me lay there a little bit,” LeBarron said. She said she picked up a stick and hurled it, thinking the bear might chase it, which it didn’t, but the animal then “got up and started walking away from me.”
The injured woman said she found a tree with two low branches and crawled into them, trying to get her bearings. Then she saw a light.
“‘Oh my God, that’s home,'” she remembers thinking. “I dragged myself home.”
She spent two weeks in the hospital’s trauma unit in critical condition and had a skin graft on her head Feb. 4, after which she said she was ready to return home.
“I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said. “I was going stir crazy.”
Staff at Gesinger were “awesome” and let her watch the Feb. 2 birth of her eighth grandchild, Rhett Lincoln LeBarron, she said.
“It feels good to be home,” she said. Bear the dog, who suffered a punctured lung, broken ribs and a cut on the stomach, has not left her side, she said.
“She is completely recovered,” she said. “You can’t even tell anything happened to her. She is doing awesome.”
The game commission set two traps to try to catch the bear but caught only two young animals that were relocated, and the traps were removed last month.