NEWS
07/12/2011 09:26 EDT | Updated 09/11/2011 05:12 EDT

Grizzly Victim Recounts Terrifying Attack

CBC -- A B.C. man is talking for the first time about his violent encounter last week with a grizzly bear.

Johnny Johnson is recovering in a Victoria hospital from the July 4 attack, which occurred while he was picking berries in the mainland coastal community of Oweekeno.

Johnson, 51, said the terrifying experience began some time after he saw a neighbour's dogs chasing the bear and her cubs.

"I was about 20 minutes into picking then, felt like I was hit by a truck," he said. "I could hear and feel the grinding in my skull as the bear was ripping my scalp off."

Johnson said the attack felt like it just went on and on.

"[The bear] let go, grabbed me by the neck, shaking, let go, grabbed me by the waist."

The bear dropped him once again, only to come back for more, but Johnson said it was at that point that he decided to fight back.

"I put my feet up and kicked it. It went over the top of me," he said. "I blacked out after that... I don't know how long, but when I came to again there was nothing around me... it was just silent."

Despite his injuries and loss of blood from his torn scalp, Johnson said he was able to stagger more than a kilometre to find help from a local resident, who drove him to a local clinic.

Johnson was taken by air ambulance the 450 kilometres to Victoria, where doctors found that in addition to his torn scalp, he had sustained numerous puncture wounds, lacerations and a broken hand.

He said he still sees the face of the bear in front of him, even while he's awake, and said that he's having horrific nightmares.

"I keep waking up with the bear attacking me. I can smell its fur."

Despite the efforts of a team of conservation officers, the bear that attacked Johnson has not been found.