A camper nearly escaped death after he woke to find a 300-pound black bear biting down on his head.
Paul Georgoulis is thanking his lucky stars after he had the terrifying encounter with the beast in Santa Fe National Forest in Glorieta, New Mexico.
In a recent interview, he recalled the harrowing moment he woke to a sniffing sound as he camped out in a tent. However, the nightmare truly began when he opened his eyes and realized his head was between the jaws of a bear.
“I screamed as loud as I can, right in its ears, and it kind of lumbers off,” he said, recalling how he reacted at that moment. “The phrase ‘life flashed before your eyes,’ I don’t think is really a very accurate phrase of what I experienced, but I can’t think of any better way to say it.”
At the time of the horrifying run-in, Georgoulis was traveling from Colorado to Texas when he stopped in Santa Fe to visit his friend. Despite planning to leave the same day, he decided to camp overnight in a nearby forest when it got too late to travel.
His friend later described hearing him scream as he ran towards his cabin. He was also bleeding from a gash on his head, an injury that would later require 16 stitches.
“It was 3:30 in the morning, and he was running for the house screaming and bleeding,” his friend recalled. The pair rushed to a nearby hospital, where doctors treated him for his injuries.
“I was really worried because when that bear grabbed me. … I heard a bit of a crunching sound. Luckily my CT scan came back OK,” he said following the attack.
Black Bears are also common in the Glorieta area, with a recent uptick in sightings. According to Georgoulis, he believes a string of wildfires has forced bears to find new homes.
However, Georgoulis said he has no hard feelings toward the black bear despite nearly losing his head and his life. “I think really what happened was there was a curious bear in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
He added: “It felt more like it was kind of trying to gently pick up my head and drag it somewhere else, if that makes any sense. Like I think he thought it was like an inanimate object kind of a thing that smelled good.
“There are definitely some big emotions that come along with this that I have to process. But I don’t think any of it is going to deter me from going back outside.”