Bleeding from severe cuts and puncture wounds, his arm broken, Johnny Johnson walked nearly a kilometre to find help after being attacked by a grizzly bear on Monday on British Columbia's remote central coast.
Mr. Johnson was in stable condition in the intensive care unit at Victoria General Hospital on Tuesday.
Those who saw him and thought the worst say his survival is nothing short of miraculous.
"It just blows me away that he walked that far on his own to get help," said Rick Yellow Horn, administrator for the Wuikinuxv First Nation, to which Mr. Johnson belongs. "For him to be able to walk after those circumstances, it's just a miracle. It's amazing."
Mr. Yellow Horn, who was among a group that stayed with Mr. Johnson as he waited for an air ambulance to reach the community, said the attack took place about 10:30 a.m. Monday, near the western edge of Oweekeno, about 480 kilometres northwest of Vancouver. The community of about 100 full-time residents is accessible only by boat or float plane.
It was the second incident in B.C. in a week involving bears.
On Tuesday, the British Columbia Coroners Service confirmed that a black bear was responsible for the death of Bernice Evelyn Adolph, a member of the Xaxli'p First Nation. The 72-year-old's body was found June 30 by a police dog, a couple of hundred metres down the hill from her remote cabin near Lillooet, B.C.
Attacks by black bears are far more rare than attacks by the larger grizzlies. Ms. Adolph's death is believed to be the third deadly black bear attack since 2000 in B.C.
The coroner said the autopsy results, evidence at the scene and the expertise of conservation officers show a bear was responsible.
Conservation officers shot four black bears found in the area, and testing is under way to determine whether the bear responsible for the attack was among them.
Like Ms. Adolph, Mr. Johnson was in a remote area at the time of Monday's attack. Mr. Yellow Horn said Mr. Johnson was on an old logging trail, picking berries.
Johnson, who is in his early 50s, suffered lacerations to his head and scalp, puncture wounds to his neck, injuries to his left hip and a broken arm, said Yellow Horn.
He managed to walk between nearly a kilometre to a local residence, where he found someone to drive him to the band's medical centre.
There, he had to wait two hours for an air ambulance to fly him to hospital in Victoria.
Community health representatives worked the entire time to stabilize him, keeping him conscious and preventing him from going into shock while he waited.
"They can't administer drugs," Mr. Yellow Horn said of the health representatives in the community. "You know, they can only basically assess the situation, apply bandages and compresses where they feel it's appropriate."
Mr. Yellow Horn said health workers grew frustrated as they waited for the air ambulance.
"That was probably the worst part for the people that were providing the care is that wait because, I mean, they tell you it's going to be like 45 minutes, but it actually ends up being over twice as long," he said.
At times, he said he feared Mr. Johnson could die, especially from a loss of blood.
"Because we knew how much he had lost there in the building, but then you think of how long it took him to walk from where he was attacked to that residence and then getting from that residence to the building, you know, that's a lot of blood to lose."
Doug Forsdick, an inspector with the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service, said it's too early to say why the grizzly attacked Johnson. He did say, however, that the grizzly was a sow that was with her cubs.
Mr. Forsdick said six members of a predator-attack team are expected to begin an investigation as soon as they arrive in Oweekeno. The team was delayed Tuesday morning because of bad weather.
Mr. Yellow Horn said he suspects bad luck and poor salmon stocks are behind the attack. Grizzly bears, he said, are now venturing into communities because they can't rely on natural food sources.
"This fellow was very bear-savvy, and he lived here all his life and he knows their behaviour," he said of Mr. Johnson. "For whatever reason, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."