Grizzly attack victim’s Port Alberni family sets up fund for his rehab

BY KRISTI DOBSON

ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS

Rachel Dame is doing what she can to support her brother following a terrifying grizzly bear attack. The forestry worker from Campbell River was seriously injured on March 22 while working at a logging camp on the mainland.

Ryan Arsenault spends part of his time in the office of Capacity Forest Management close to home and the remainder out in remote camps. He was about 100 kilometres north of Port Hardy when he was surprised by a grizzly bear.

“He was tagging trees and out of nowhere it appeared,” said Dame, a Port Alberni resident. “There was no forewarning. He tried hiding behind a small tree and yelled at it but that didn’t work. He tried booting it in the face hoping that would work but it took him down.”

The bear first attacked Arsenault’s lower leg, shattering his fibula, and continued to bite his head. At that point, Arsenault tried to protect his skull with his arms when the bear went for his wrist. His thick work vest saved his back and torso.

Dame said the quick action of his coworkers probably saved her brother’s life.

“There is a protocol everyone has to follow and they have to be a certain distance from coworkers at all times,” she said.

One of the coworkers heard Arsenault yelling at the bear, who, along with another worker, found him and contacted the base for first aid and a helicopter. The attack took place at about 10:30 a.m. but the crew had to hike about three hours down steep terrain and snow with a stretcher. From there, he was flown to the hospital in Port Hardy to receive a full blood transfusion and staples in his head.

“It could have been a lot worse if they didn’t make it down before dark,” Dame said.

Arsenault has been in Victoria General Hospital since Thursday, March 23 when he underwent his first surgery to place bolts and plates in his arm. His leg first had to receive extensive cleaning and the prognosis remains up in the air. There were initial concerns about bacteria and possible nerve damage.

This was not the first time Arsenault had seen bears while working, but they have typically kept their distance from people.

“He has seen grizzlies before,” Dame said. “That is their territory and they usually walk away if they see you, but this one was very hungry. He had just woken up.”

The whole ordeal has been difficult on the family. Arsenault, in his 30s, is married with two children aged eight and 14. He will continue to stay in Victoria for at least one month and undergo more surgeries over the year. When Dame found out she had friends and family across the country wanting to help out, she created a gofundme account.

“He is very well-liked and fun to be around,” she said. “There have been a lot of people reaching out who don’t even know him.”

She said time will determine what the next steps are but is hoping Arsenault will be transferred to a hospital closer to home.

To help the family with expenses, the gofundme link can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/ryans-recovery-support.

Kristi Dobson is a freelance journalist from Port Alberni.

Just Posted

BUSINESS BEAT: New entrepreneurs investing in Port Alberni

Portal Curios and Oddities opening in Harbour Quay

Saanich man, passenger escape injury in Mt Arrowsmith rollover

A visitor from the South Island escaped injury after rolling his SUV… Continue reading

Port Alberni residents, city council divided on rules for cannabis stores

Public speaks up about pot at committee of the whole meeting

Port Alberni RCMP officers honoured for bravery

Five faced ‘violent, deranged’ male during break-in

Alberni Valley Bulldogs battle against top teams in the BCHL

Bulldogs split weekend games against Spruce Kings, Chiefs

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Trial: Witness describes encounter with accused murderer while tending to fatally injured Descoteau

Wright said he was working in his yard when he heard a woman screaming.

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Most Read