Man who had face ripped off by bear dug mud out of his own airways to survive
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A man who had half of his face ripped off by a bear says he had to dig mud out of his airway so he could breathe.
Wes Perkins was out on a hunting trip in the Alaskan mountains in May 2011 when he came across a huge eight-foot grizzly bear.
The animal burst out of a hole and charged the 65-year-old, tearing into him with its sharp claws.
He ended up losing his tongue, having his jaw smashed, and left gasping for air before the bear was eventually shot dead.
The former fire chief somehow managed to survive the savage attack, and was in hospital for four months recovering, where he underwent a number of operations.
Wes had to have titanium plates inserted in his cheeks and a titanium rib around his jawbone.
Wes said that he tried to get his gun out but the bear was on him too quickly and he ‘had no time to do anything’.
"I never lost consciousness," he told Donnie Rose. "I had to open my airways because I had a bunch of mud here – my face was all tore up – lost my teeth, my tongue, my jaw. And so I just stayed focused.
"I knew I could hear so I could talk to Ed and Dan who were with me."
After seeing his friend in distress, Dan began shooting at the bear, which then came for him.
Ed, Dan's son, then pulled out his gun and shot the bear, killing it.
"I probably saved Wes’ life and my son saved my life from the whole ordeal," Dan said.
When he went over to check on Wes, Dan said 'his whole face rolled right off'.
Ed radioed in the attack, telling Wes' brother: "There was a bear mauling. Wesley was all torn up."
Then, turning his attention back to his friend, Dan told Wes that he had to keep still to stop his face from moving.
"There was very little blood. Wesley was conscious," he said. "[I told him] Wesley you need to stay real still just keep your face in the snow."
Wes recalled that the snow helped "numb what was left [of his face]".
Wes said: "As I stayed there I knew I was getting hypothermic a little bit. When the helicopter arrived Perkins said he was able to walk to it with help.
"I was lucky enough and able to walk, with their help, into the helicopter."
Despite his ordeal, Wes says he's still an active outdoorsman, and continues to hunt bears and moose.
He said: '[I] do most everything I used to do but since I cannot close my mouth, I cannot swim and it's hard to run or jog, as my jaw bounces because I lost so much muscle in my jaw... but hell, those are small things in life. I do everything else."