Florida woman recalls horror of bear attack

Tue Dec 31, 2013 4:47pm EST
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MIAMI (Reuters) - A woman mauled by a bear in central Florida earlier this month has spoken out publicly about the attack for the first time, telling state wildlife officials she thought she might die.

"That bear was trying to kill me, it just kept coming," said Susan Chalfant, who suffered injuries to her face and head during the December 2 incident in her secluded neighborhood in Seminole County.

Chalfant, 54, has declined media requests for interviews after surviving what officials have described as the worst reported bear attack on a human in Florida history.

In the report released on Tuesday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Chalfant told investigators she said she had just stepped out of her house for an evening stroll with her two dogs when a black bear charged at her from bushes nearby.

The "snarling and growling" beast stopped short of her location but "continued to lunge forward and then back away over and over," the report said.

As Chalfant backed away, hoping to retreat to her home, the bear circled her and cut off her escape route and knocked her to the ground, the report added. She got up but the bear pushed her down again, it added.

Chalfant said she fought back with her fists as the bear started biting her in the face and shaking her, trying to hit it and gouge the animal's eyes out. But she sustained multiple injuries before managing to get up and rush to a neighbor's house for help.

The extent of Chalfant's injuries was unclear, since she declined to be photographed or release any records kept by her medical providers, according to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

A commission investigator who saw Chalfant, before and after surgery, said he observed "deep, ragged lacerations on the face and head that appeared consistent with wounds inflicted by an animal's teeth."   Continued...