Woman Survives Bear Attack

Allena Hansen said her dogs' barking gave her a chance to escape a bear attack.


Aug. 3, 2008 — -- Swollen and scared, Allena Hansen's face still has the very visible scars of her encounter with a black bear 10 days ago. Large pink wounds cover her forehead and cheeks, but the 56-year-old California resident doesn't need the physical remnants to serve as a reminder of her near-death experience.

She vividly remembers the details of what happened as she walked her dogs in Kern County, Calif.

"My first sensation was that it was a little, tiny bear, but what a bully," Hansen said.

But the 150-pound bear was no small wonder compared to the 100-pound Hansen, and the animal pounced on her.

"I found myself down on the ground. I heard, 'Chomp, chomp, chomp.' I felt it go through my skull. I felt it bite through this eye," Hansen said. "I heard kind of a squishy, crunchy pop. I went, 'There goes my eye!' Then it got a hold of my face and started shaking -- you know, worrying it. I could feel it tearing off. I could feel the blood, the wetness; I could see it dripping, I could hear it 'whooshing.' And I think the one thing that was most vivid to me was watching that little bugger spit my teeth out."

Severely injured, Hansen nearly gave up hope for her own life, until she thought of her son, and her two dogs, Decoy and Arky, came to her rescue.

"I went, you know, 'If the dogs [are] willing to make the sacrifice, the least that I could do is make an effort,'" she said.

The dogs' barking created enough of a distraction to allow Hansen to escape. Still, she'd have to manage to hike 10 minutes over rough terrain to make it to her car. When she arrived at the vehicle, Hansen caught the first glimpse of her injuries in the rearview mirror.

She managed to drive herself four miles to the nearest fire station.

"[It was] kind of bizarre, because I asked her her name and she told me, 'Allena Hansen.' And I know Allena Hansen. I didn't recognize her. I don't know how she was able to even see," said Kern County fire department Capt. Curt Merrill.

Officials airlifted Hansen to UCLA Medical Center where it took surgeons more than 10 hours to put her face back together.

"She had an indentation of the bone where the bear's claw tore through her face," said Dr. Kimberly Lee, of UCLA Medical Center.

Now, Hansen is back at home and recovering, but her son said he's not surprised his feisty mother survived the attack.

"I think I can safely say that it is going to take more than some punk little bear to get rid of her," Hansen's son Alec Newman said.

KABC-TV contributed to this report.

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