B.C. student plays dead to survive grizzly bear attack

Jordan Chittley
Daily Buzz

Julia Stafford and a coworker curled in the fetal position and it may have saved their lives

There are some differing opinions on how to survive a bear attack, but for one University of British Columbia student playing dead may have saved her life.

Julia Stafford, 20, was collecting rock samples with a co-worker for a Canadian mining company just northeast of Anchorage in Alaska when they spotted a grizzly bear in a foggy ravine.

Stafford, who is from Seattle, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner the bear walked out of the fog and they realized she had two cubs with her.

"The bear started walking toward us, then running toward us, then jumped on us," Stafford said in King5 video. "Then he kind of pushed us over and then he bit me by the hand and dragged me 20 feet down the rocks."

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She said they tried to walk away from it, but stopped once they realized the bear was following them and tried to get out the bear spray, but it was too late. The bear knocked both of them down, but focused her attention on Stafford. They both curled into the fetal position and played dead and the bear lost its attention.

"I was worried I was going to die briefly, but it was fine once she let me go and ran away," Stafford said to the News-Miner.

Her co-worker then made sure the bear was gone, wrapped her hand in a fleece jacket, walked to an open area and called for a helicopter.

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This happened just two days after a lone backpacker in a nearby area was killed by a grizzly.

It also comes just months after a Winnipeg man was attacked by a black bear. In May, Gordon Shurvell was dragged out of his outhouse by the bear and escaped with only a number of scratches on his back and shoulders. Shurvell started screaming and his friend heard that followed the sounds, found the two and shot the bear.

As for Stafford she said, "It was pretty scary at the time, but it doesn't really bother me much now."

With files from The Canadian Press

(Reuters photo)