True Tales of Survival

Boy Scouts Help Troop Leader Survive Bear Attack

A Boy Scout leader and a few scouts were out for a hike when he had a dangerous encounter with an angry bear. The bravery and survival skills of his son and two other Boy Scouts would end up saving his life.

Check out the video below to hear from the brave scouts and see the area of the attack.

The Bear Encounter
Christopher Petronino, a 50-year-old Boy Scout troop leader, was reportedly mauled by a bear on Dec. 20, 2015 while on a hiking trip at Splitrock Reservoir in New Jersey, about 30 miles from Newark. 

During the hike, Petronino climbed up a rocky hillside to a cave. He says that he has explored the cave on a regular basis since the 1980s, but had never run into a bear.

When he entered the cave, a black bear reportedly grabbed him and pulled him further into the cave.

After the bear grabbed his foot, Petronino struck the animal twice with a rock hammer, pulled his shirt up to cover his head, curled into the fetal position and pretended he was dead. This let the black bear know that he was not a threat, and the bear eventually left him alone.

Desperately Seeking Help
The injured Petrino then yelled to the Boy Scouts to get help. The boys immediately called 911 but could not describe their exact location. They left food outside of the cave in attempt to lure the bear from its den.

One of the Scouts, 13-year-old Frankie Lepore, credits his training for helping him remain calm during the situation. “I thought this was a serious situation—he might not make it alive if we don’t do something,” he told ABC News.

The boys also started building a signal fire to help rescuers locate them. Eventually, the bear left the cave and a dog that was with the Boy Scouts barked and frightened it, causing the bear to run away from the cave.

Petronino says he was in the cave with the bear for about an hour and 20 minutes.

Rescue crews were able to determine the party’s location based on one of the Boy Scout’s cell phone GPS coordinates, and rescued them several hours after the attack.

Petronino was airlifted out of the area and treated at a hospital. The bear had reportedly bitten his leg and both of his shoulders. He was treated for injuries that were not life-threatening and the three Scouts were unharmed.

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Anne Bucher

Anne Bucher

Anne Bucher is a freelance writer who enjoys sharing incredible stories of survival.

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