War Veteran Fights Off Black Bear Attack Near Yosemite

bear attack mariposa

A 66-year-old man who fought off a black bear near Yosemite National Park credits his Marine Corps training and a rush of adrenaline that saved his life.

Larry Yepez, a Vietnam war veteran, told the Today show that if he would have stopped fighting, he wouldn’t be here today. 

Yepez was attacked by the bear, which lab tests have shown to be female, when he stepped outside his home in Midpines, according to media reports and a statement by the California Department of Fish and Widlife

Yepez yelled at the bear but it continued to approach. So the former Marine went into fight mode and grabbed a large plastic pot and slammed it over the bear’s head. But just like in the movies, the bear kept coming.  That’s when Yepez thought, “This bear is gonna kill you,” he told the Today show.

In the struggle, Yepez suffered multiple puncture wounds and lacerations from his head to his feet. But he kept fighting, he said.

“I realized I didn’t have enough punch to knock out a bear,” he said. “That’s when I kicked him and got him off of me.”

The bear retreated and Yepez drove himself to the hospital.

Following the attack wildlife officials have mounted a search for the bear, with the intention of euthanizing her, but so far without luck. The fear is that once accustomed to brawling with humans, the bear will not hesitate to engage someone else.

Photo credit: CDFW