Larry Yepez has fought for his life before — the California man is a Vietnam combat vet and former Marine. That training came in handy Thursday during a brutal fight with a 250-pound black bear on his front porch.
“They tell you to remove the word ‘can’t’ from your vocabulary. Don’t you ever say that word again — can’t. And then they say — take the pain,” Yepez, 66, told KGPE while recovering from his wounds.
The fight took place suddenly in the early morning hours Thursday. About 4 a.m., he went outside his house and spotted the bear 10 feet away, poking around the garbage. He had startled the creature.
“I saw him, and I yelled, ‘Hey, get out of here.’ And he continued to come towards me,” he recalled. And then, the animal attacked.
“I could feel his strength. I felt like a little rag doll underneath him. I could hear the crunching like ‘crr’ — like that when he bit down on it. See, and that’s why I was trying to hit him again to try and get him off me … It was terrifying. It kicked in and said — you got to fight, Larry.”
Luckily, Larry had a pretty brave little Yorkshire Terrier. During his fight, his dog, Benji, did his part — even though he was clearly outmatched. Benji nipped at the bear as best he could, but it was enough to distract it and help Yepez get the upper hand in the fight, KFSN added.
— Fresno Bee (@FresnoBee) August 14, 2015
One of the coolest,strongest & inspirational person I've met in a long time. 66y/o Larry Yepez survived bear mauling. pic.twitter.com/oNDm8vET56
— Connie Tran (@MissConnieTran) August 15, 2015
The vet was able to get away and run inside, with his dog in tow, and assess his injuries.
“He had his mouth here, and that’s when he ripped here, and he got me here on the neck too. He ripped towards my neck and then again the belly,” the vet said, showing off wounds to his face, legs, arms, abdomen, hands, and feet.
These merely add to the vet’s collection of injuries he sustained during Vietnam — the gunshot through the wrist, another in the foot, and some shrapnel in his back. He earned a Purple Heart for his service.
And Larry proved his grit once again. Bleeding profusely from the attack, he drove himself to the hospital. Staff there were shocked when he arrived.
“When I walked in, I was just covered in blood all over me. And they go, ‘Oh my God. What happened to you?’ And I said, ‘I just got attacked by a bear.’ “
The vet has gotten his rabies shots and some antibiotics, but only spent a few hours in the hospital. And now, California Fish and Wildlife Officials are looking for the animal, the Fresno Bee added.
If they catch it, the bear will be euthanized because of the brutality of the mauling. It will most likely be shot humanely. According to ABC News, Yepez noted it was only a cub.
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]