Possibly the luckiest man to walk the earth, this guy survived the most gruesome bear attack ever.
The story and what are apparently the photos resulting from a bear attack are hard to look at, hard to think about, and hard to imagine. But this is a story of survival, incredible willpower, and how the unbelievable can become the truth.
Fair warning: Some of the accounts in this story are EXTREMELY GRAPHIC. Continue under your own discretion.
Wes Perkins is from Alaska, and he knows he's lucky. Life is good, but it will never be the same after the unfortunate bear attack that nearly cost him his life.
26 surgeries and more than $1 million accumulated in medical suspenses later, Wes is getting along. He's not the man he once was, but he's still very appreciative to be alive.
According to Anchorage Daily News,
"Wes Perkins is whole in body and still badly disfigured. There is no gentle way to describe his condition. Doctors had to use part of his fibula to create a jaw to replace what the bear ripped off of his face. He still has a tube in his throat. His left eye, which sees only light and dark, weeps constantly. And probably worst of all, for a man who always loved to talk, he is now hard to understand because he speaks with only half a tongue."
So how did this nightmare of situation come about? It was essentially a bear hunt gone bad, a routine and pleasant hunt that took a turn for the worse when Perkins came across the wrong bear at the wrong time.
Rather than fleeing like most usually do, the bear fed into it's fighting instinct, as it likely felt threatened. It turned out to be bad news for Perkins.
Perkins, who is a trained paramedic, recalls the attack vividly. He was quoted in the interview with Anchorage Daily News:
"I had to dig stuff out of (my) airway to breathe," he wrote. "If I was unconscious, I would have died. Also, (as) long as I lay still just right I was able to keep my airway open. I could not move my face sideways or my airway would close. I know if I lost consciousness, I would probably die. So I stayed alert all the way (to Nome), and I could squeeze the hands of my two partners when they asked me questions."
His partners were Dan Stang, a Nome dentist, and his son, Edward, a student in dentistry school at the time. They shot the 8-foot-tall, 13-year-old grizzly bear off of Perkins, which was the first action made that lead to survival of Wes. That act was accompanied by many others that have allowed Perkins to carry on with life.
And that is the amazing part of this story. A team effort and incredible will power of a human to survive is what helped create this rescue and survival of epic proportions.
Here's more from the Anchorage Daily News,
Even as the Stangs began life-saving first aid, they were radioing for help from Nome, a community far from anywhere at the tip of the Seward Peninsula jutting into the sea closer to Russia than Anchorage, the urban hub of the 49th state.
Perkins' brother Nate made the radio call. He didn't call Alaska State Troopers and wait for others to act. He pretty much single-handedly organized a rescue to lift his brother from the wilderness of the Kigluaik Mountains, about 30 miles east of this small community. "Ace chopper pilot Ben Rowe saved his life," Nate said at the time, but Rowe was only one of the many who combined to save then 54 year old Wes. Rowe was in the air only minutes after taking a phone call from Nate. As he flew, others were rolling into action, too.
Wes, the Survivor
Wes is getting along as best as he can.
Four months after the attack, Wes is able to get around on his own, but is far from being back to life as he knew it. Everything he consumes comes from a blender now, but its better than being underground. Every day is a day of improvement, and medical staff members are still working on getting him back to his best state.
The detail and information found inside this story will blow your mind. Some of it is extremely gruesome and vivid. "Extraordinary" and "incredible" are the only two words fitting enough to describe the miracle that happened.
Wes wants everyone to be careful, and to remember wild animals are not your friends. They are not good or bad, they are simply wild animals, and that is something to be remembered.
"Some think I was taking pictures," he wrote. "I did not know the bear was 69 feet away in a snow cave. I would not get 69 feet from a bear in the zoo.
"I had a camera in my pocket, snowgo jacket. So when I stopped, I thought the bear was ahead of me. We saw it had been running. So I stopped to take camera out of pocket and put it in my dash bag as I could shoot the gun."
The bear attacked as he was doing that.
"I turned and saw the bear, full charge," he wrote. "I only had time to say, 'Oh shit!' But I got (my) gun 1/2 way off my back . . . When I turned around, the bear was that close. I had no time to do anything. Nine steps from 69 feet, according to Fish and Game. Big bear."
Perkins, who spent his life in Alaska, has a fair bit of experience around grizzlies, but added, "I never had one hide like this one!" What followed after it burst from a snow cave has been an experience he couldn't imagine in his worst nightmares.
It's a mind boggling story and I personally cringe thinking about it all taking place. In my mind, Wes will forever be the luckiest unlucky gentleman to walk this earth.