Bear attack: Victim's girlfriend describes incident

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PAYSON, Ariz. -- Another camper was attacked by a bear Sunday morning in the Ponderosa Campground, according to officials with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

It's the third attack in the area in just the last month.

The victim, Peter Baca, 30, of Tempe, was asleep at the time of the attack. Baca was hospitalized in critical condition, but he is expected to survive.

"The tent was shaking and I was trying to wake up and it seemed like I was still in a dream," said Frankie Gurule, the victim's girlfriend.

Gurule was snapped awake by the sound of screaming and the sight of blood.

Gurule and her 1-year-old child were present during the attack, but they were able to escape without any injuries.

"I grab the baby and I put him underneath me," she said. "We had a pocketknife in there and I'm searching for this pocketknife and the tent collapses on top of us, and my boyfriend is just screaming and the bear is just attacking him."

Gurule said her boyfriend yelled to grab their child and run. Eventually, Gurule found an opening and caught a a full view of the attack as she ran away.

"The bear was standing up on its hind legs, it was a black bear, and it was biting his head and had his claws on him, and I just remember running past and just thinking is this real, am I really seeing this?" Gurule explained.

Baca suffered serious wounds to his head and arm, as well as a broken hand and severed ear, but he somehow remained conscious.

Other campers in the area chased the bear away by throwing rocks and shooting at the animal multiple times. It's not known if the bear was hit by any bullets.

A nearby camper, who is also medically trained, started an IV and bandaged what wounds he could.

While Gurule says the Ponderosa Campground is like a second home to her, this was Baca's first ever visit to a campsite.

"I love camping, I've gone camping my whole life, I've never seen more than a deer or a squirrel," Gurule said.

Still, the couple were warned about the recent bear attacks and Gurule said the family took it seriously.

They put all the food in their truck before settling in for the night, except for one baby bottle.

Gurule said she didn't think the bear was looking for food, she believes it was just extremely aggressive.

The camping trip was a gift for Father's Day.

"The last thing he said to me before they took him was, 'I don't want to go camping again,'" Gurule said.

That was a wish Gurule said she was happy to grant.

"Me and my baby walked out completely unharmed and he saved our lives," Gurule said.

Baca is the primary breadwinner and although he has insurance through his customer service job, he'll be out of work for a while.

With that in mind, an account has been set up. Click here for more information.