A terrifying bear encounter turned bloody in Mariposa County, California when 66-year-old Marine Corps vet Larry Yepez, had to fight off the 250-pound animal outside his home.
“I could feel his strength. I felt like a little rag doll underneath him,” Yepez told CNN affiliate KGPE.
Yepez, who lives near Yosemite National park, said the bear was about 10 feet away when he stepped outside his home Thursday. He said despite yelling “get away,” the animal came at him, jumped on him and knocked him down.
“I could hear the crunching … when he bit down on my wrist. He ripped towards my neck and then again the belly,” Yepez told reporters.
The Purple Heart recipient credits his Marine Corps training, for getting him through those terrifying moments. He says his military instincts kicked in and said — “you got to fight.” Yepez said of his basic training in the military: “They tell you to remove the word ‘can’t’ from your vocabulary. Don’t you ever say that word again — can’t. And then they say — take the pain.”
Yepez said he kept punching the bear but then after pushing it off with both legs, his dog created a distraction, and they both ran inside. He says at that point, the bear took off in a different direction.
Yepez suffered injuries to his wrist, face, neck and stomach, but still managed to drive himself to a nearby hospital. “When I walked in, I was just covered in blood. And they go, ‘Oh my God. What happened to you?’ And I said, ‘I just got attacked by a bear,’” he said.
The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents to be on the lookout for the bear, according to the report. Wildlife officials plan to euthanize the bear when it’s found, they said.