Miraculous Explosion Saves Army Veteran During Grizzly Bear Encounter

A hike in Grand Teton National Park turned into a nightmarish ordeal for Shayne Patrick Burke, a disabled Army veteran from Massachusetts, when he found himself face-to-face with a protective mother grizzly bear. The 35-year-old’s pursuit of photographing a great gray owl on May 19 was abruptly interrupted by the presence of a bear cub, signaling imminent danger.

Burke, relying on his knowledge of bear safety, assumed a prone position on his stomach, hands interlocked behind his neck. The bear, however, was relentless in her attack, biting and slamming Burke repeatedly. “I’ve experienced being shot at, mortared and I.E.D. explosions,” Burke shared on Instagram, describing the mauling as “the most violent” encounter of his life.

In a twist of fate, the grizzly’s jaws inadvertently bit into Burke’s can of bear spray during an attempted “kill bite” on his neck. The explosion in the bear’s mouth startled her, allowing Burke to escape and distance himself from the scene.

Despite severe injuries, Burke managed to improvise tourniquets using straps from his backpack and camera bag. He credits his survival to prior knowledge of bear attack safety and the fortuitous presence of bear spray. Park rangers provided emergency care before airlifting Burke to a hospital, where he underwent surgery to clean and staple his wounds.

Burke, who harbors no ill will towards the bear, requested that park officials spare her life, understanding her defensive actions. As he recovers from this harrowing experience, Burke’s story serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of preparedness and respect for wildlife in our national parks.

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