Grizzly survivor does physio in Campbell

A B.C. man who survived a grizzly bear attack last month is recovering in Campbell River

A B.C. man who survived a grizzly bear attack last month is recovering in Campbell River.

John Johnson, 51, is receiving physiotherapy at a local rehabilitation clinic for the serious injuries he suffered at the hands of a female grizzly.

Johnson, who is from the B.C. central coast, was transferred from Victoria General, where he spent more than a month receiving treatment, to Campbell River for the second phase of his recovery process last week.

“North of the Island there’s not much in the way of physio,” said Johnson, who’s staying at a hotel. “(Campbell River is) one of the better places for it.”

Johnson is in the early stages of physiotherapy and his one visit so far was to determine the extent of his injuries.

Johnson suffered serious head injuries – including a torn scalp – a broken hand, a hip injury and other lacerations after being mauled by a grizzly bear July 4.

The forestry worker was picking berries in the remote community of Oweekeeno, near Bella Bella, when a grizzly, who was with her cubs, lunged at him, knocking him down to the ground.

“All I remember is it felt like a truck hit me,” Johnson said. “And before I could get to my feet, the bear was on top of me. It did damage to my feet, hip and head.”

Johnson has no memory of what happened next but was later told that after the attack he remarkably walked nearly one kilometre down a gravel road to the nearest house where he got help.

“I have no clue how I did it,” said Johnson, who was suffering from serious blood loss. “I don’t remember the walk. For the first 10 days (after the attack) I had no clue where I was.”

While in hospital, Johnson had surgery to insert a steel plate into his broken hand.

The terrifying ordeal has left Johnson unable to walk without pain and he experiences numbness in his hand and his hip.

He said physiotherapy should help bring the feeling back but he’s not sure how long the process may take.

“I just don’t know,” Johnson said. “All I can do is take it one step at a time.”