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Ojai Bear Attack Survivor Recounts Horrifying Ordeal

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OJAI (CBSLA.com) — One local woman is recounting a horrifying ordeal a week after coming eye-to-eye with a 250-pound California black bear while walking her dogs in Ojai.

CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Rob Schmitt spoke with Terri Fernow about the attack along Gridley Trail on Oct. 19.

Fernow says she spotted a mama bear and her cub on the trail, which she says she frequents, about 7 a.m.

The bear initially did what’s called a bluff-charge and didn’t touch her, Fernow recalls.

The move, however, caused her dogs to run off to safety.

Knowing that she couldn’t outrun the bear, Fernow says she stood her ground and the bear charged again.

“He came after me and my first instinct was to put out my arm and that’s when she got my wrist.” she said.

With a gash to her wrist, Fernow remained and for a second time the bear took a swing.

Said Fernow, “the second before she hit me, I turned… it was more like a body slam that she did but her paw got me and she knocked me over the side of the trail. I went about 20, 25 feet down the embankment and she followed me.”

After rolling down the hill, a terrified Fernow played dead.

“What went through my mind was to play dead but I put my head through my knees and I stayed like that. I could feel her breathing on my neck but I didn’t move. I didn’t breathe,” she said. “When I felt her breathing on my neck, I thought, ‘This is it. This is how I’m going to die.’”

Fernow says the bear inspected her for about 10 seconds and wandered off.

Fernow hasn’t returned to the Gridley Trail but is hiking again.

“The first time I go back up Gridley is going to be scary but I’ll do it. I love the mountains,” she said.

RELATED STORY:
» Woman Plays Dead, Escapes Bear Attack With Minor Injuries

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