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ABC News
ABC News
5 Aug 2023
ABC News


DANVILLE, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania man says he's paying a lot more attention to his surroundings after a surprise attack by a bear in the garage of his home.

John Swartz, 60, and his wife Lori, 59, were watching TV at their home outside Danville on the evening of July 27 when he remembered he had to turn off a hose he'd left running to fill an inflatable pool. So he walked into the two-car garage, where the shutoff valve was located — unaware that a bear had wandered in a minute earlier.

The next thing he knew, he said, he was thrown against shelving units, heard a growl and knew immediately it was a bear. When he turned to flee, the bear bit him on the head. Holding his injured head, he stumbled back toward the house, but surveillance video later showed a second encounter with the animal.

"Thankfully, the bear didn’t retaliate when I tripped over him,” he told The (Sunbury) Daily Item.

His wife, hearing a scream, met him at the door and quickly called 911 as he tried to stop the bleeding. Looking out the window while waiting for the ambulance, he saw the 250-pound (114 kilogram), tall, thin animal ambling by their RV.

At the hospital, doctors confirmed that his head injuries were superficial bite marks. His shirt, which had two large paw prints on the shoulders, was taken by a Pennsylvania Game Commission officer for DNA testing. The game commission also set up a trap baited with doughnuts to try to catch the animal.

“It’s very understandable as to why it did what it did," John Swartz told WOLF-TV. "I surprised it ... It had one way out and it was through me.”

Nowadays, however, he and his wife are much more careful around the home after dark.

"We look really well before we go outside now,” he said. “Especially if it’s around 8:30 or later, I’m cautious.”