Something Bit Me (2022–…): Season 1, Episode 2 - Where's Mom? - full transcript

MATT: When you are in the Arctic,
you are alone.

You are on your own.
Once you’re up there, you're up there.

It's like you can't decide,
"Well, I wanna go home now."

And I can remember saying to myself,

"I, I wonder what it's
gonna be like to be dead?"

NARRATOR: Torngat Mountains National Park

Over 3700 square miles
of untouched wilderness in

the subarctic region
of northeastern Canada.

The jagged peaks and iceberg-strewn waters
of this Inuit homeland

attract tourists from all over the world.

Tourists like Matt Dyer,
who has come here to experience

its unspoiled beauty firsthand.

My name's Matt Dyer.

I live in Easton, Maine,
and I am a staff attorney.

I was at that point in my life that I
wanted to do something big.

I was thinking, "If I
wanna do something big,

I'm gonna do a trip."

I've been a member of the
Sierra Club for many years,

and I started looking
at trips that winter,

and I saw an ad for a trip to

the Torngat Mountain
National Park in Canada.

And I'm like, "Oh my,
this place looks great."

NARRATOR: Along for
the trip, Rick Isenberg,

a stranger to Matt, but
also someone looking to Torngat

with great expectations.

I am a counselor and
medical director at a, uh,

psychological clinic
in Scottsdale, Arizona.

This is actually my third career.
I started out doing OBGYN and, ultimately,

burned out in that and
didn't know what I wanted to do.

And that was the
whole intent of this trip.

The trip was really
intended to be, for me,

a vision quest.

That point on Nachvak Fjord
in the Torngat Mountains,

it is very remote.
There are no roads, there are no trails.

You’re gonna get dropped
in by a seaplane.

That's just the kind of
experience I was looking for.

I read through the brochure and

I just kind of read
past that part that says,

"And we will be
bringing electrical fences."

Note to self,

Don't go any place where it says you need
to have an electrical fence.

NARRATOR: July 2013, Matt, Rick

and a small group of other tourists
descend on Torngat via seaplane.

The vast, rugged
landscape is breathtaking.

MATT: We flew over that mountain chain,

those Torngat Mountains,
and I'm telling you...

It was dead silence going over
that mountain chain because

it was so barren and rough.

We could see that
there was nothing around.

There was nothing.

NARRATOR: Doctor Douglas Clark,

an expert on wildlife human conflicts in
this area of northern Canada,

knows just how isolated they are.

So, the Torngat Mountains contain

the highest mountains east of
the Rockies in North America.

There's no road.

In fact, there's no road for hundreds of
miles south of the park.

Once you're dropped off in
a place like that as a group,

you may or may not have options for
leaving at anything like,

the time or in the
place that you wanna leave.

You're utterly isolated and
you are entirely dependent on

what you and your group have and what's in
the environment around you,

for good and for bad.

NARRATOR: The group is dropped
off on a remote shoreline.

Leading the way are
Rich Gross and Marta Chase,

who will serve as guides
during the two-week hiking trip

RICK: Here we are in the
middle of absolutely nowhere,

clearly hundreds of miles away
from any other human beings.

And it was a, a catch
your breath kind of moment.

MATT: So, we set up camp on the beach.

We knew that there were polar bears
and black bears up there.

We had been told that we
had these electric bear fences

that was supposed to
be effective deterrent.

I thought that we'll be safe,
we'll be fine with electrical fences.

And what imagined was
this 18-gauge wire and

somebody gonna be carrying a car battery.


These fences of, like,
white tape, plastic stakes,

and they were powered
by two D-cell batteries.

RICK: Two D-cell batteries.
I looked at that I said,

"Come on, you've gotta be kidding.

This is supposed to
protect us from a polar bear."

MATT: But the theory was,
as I was told, we were all told,

that the bear would come up,

touch the fence and be shocked
so bad it would run away.

So, we set up camp and spent the night.

We figured the fence was gonna protect us.

Torngat Mountains,
it's a fascinating place because

it's an area where you've got caribou,

black bears, wolves,
and really big polar bears.

Having an electric fence
is a fabulous idea,

but installing and maintaining
a portable electric fence

is really, really hard to do.

They can work, but you don't wanna rely on
them to be a fortress around you

that you can absolutely fully trust.

They're designed as a deterrent,

they're not designed to
be an absolute bear stopper.

MATT: Next morning, we
decided to do a day hike.

And we went around, and then
I hear one of the guys say,

"Look, there's polar bears."
I thought he was joking.

We thought we'd be
lucky if we saw one bear.

Well, first day, first morning we look,

and there's a mother
polar bear with her cub,

going down the, down the beach.
Just going along being peaceful.

She didn't even, they
didn't even look at us.

Talk about being put at ease.

So, we headed back to camp,
but while we're doing that,

I look up, and there is a big polar bear.

I mean a big one, looking at us.

And then he came towards us.

NARRATOR: The polar bear.

The largest bear in the world,
and the Arctic's top predator.

Capable of weighing over 1,000 pounds,

standing up to 11 feet tall
when on their hind legs,

and running 25 miles per hour on land.

Polar bears spend much of their time
in and around sea ice,

hunting for seals.

So, polar bears and
people are mixing it up more and

more often as the Arctic is warming up.

And Torngats is a very, very
different kinda park to visit,

because in places where they
ice melts out in springtime,

polar bears are dumped to shore.
They don't wanna be there,

they wanna be out on the ice hunting
seals. But when they lose that option,

they're stuck onshore for a number of
months until the ice freezes up again.

If they haven't come ashore
with sufficient fat reserves,

that might motivate them
to go and try to seek,

seek some opportunities for a, for a meal,

whatever that might look
like when they're onshore.

So, we had been taught,

if you see a bear, and
he's interested in you, you,

you group together to
make yourself seem big.

Everybody jumps up, gets real big,
bangs our, our hiking poles together,

makes a lotta noise.

This is a really important thing
to know about polar bears,

they are curious, extremely curious,
and they will approach.

And as it draws closer,
the opportunities for things to go wrong,

and the amount of
time you have to respond,

just keeps dropping.

A bear being curious is not an instantly
life-threatening situation,

but it is a situation in which you had
better get your act together and

prepare for things to, you know, go bad.

The groups next steps
were absolutely correct.

What they did was to make it
really clear what they were,

to come to together so that they looked
visually bigger as a group,

making noise, making unnatural noises by
banging aluminum poles,

that's all a really good
thing to be doing at this time.

The thing is, though,
that if that doesn't work,

you run out of options very, very fast.
And if you have no other options,

the situation can go extremely bad.

I’ll tell ya,
the bears do not look like

what they look on the Coca Cola cans.

Uh, they're not cute and cuddly like you
find them in the gift shop.

These are fearsome beasts,
and absolutely enormous.

It was just like...


RICK: He kept coming.

CAREN: I wanted a log cabin in the woods,
so I had a cabin built.

Just love being out in nature.

I'm looking over both
shoulders frequently.

Every once in a while,
I’ll see one, and I’ll,

I'll quickly turn around
and go the other way because

mothers will tend to be very
aggressive if you get near them.

NARRATOR: Palmer, Alaska,

a small town 42 miles
northeast of Anchorage

in the Lazy Mountain area.

It's rugged hiking trails and
pristine wilderness are ideal

for those who love
nature and the outdoors.

Caren Della Cioppa
moved here 36 years ago to

live by herself in a
small cabin in the woods.

When I moved to Alaska, I, I worked
as a pilot for a while,

doing charters along the North Slope.
And now I'm retired from all of it.

'Cause I live alone, I
have a small gun in the house,

mainly if, if a person
were to break into my house.

I have much more fear
of humans than animals,

because most of the time the
animals are more afraid of you.

Living where I am, seeing wildlife is just
an everyday occurrence.

If it's a moose and bear, I’ll
run right back into the house.

But the porcupines, wolves,
foxes, all kinds of birds,

I love having 'em in my yard.

We have a little garden pond
with a little fountain,

so they come and they drink out of it.

NARRATOR: May 2011.

Caren goes for an early
morning walk behind her cabin,

stopping along the way to maintain the
heavily wooded area.

It's work that she enjoys.

I've built a little trail that goes
from one side of my house to other,

back through the woods.
And I was just walking back there,

kinda of moving brush out of the way.

When I walk out my door,
I'm in the woods and

I don't know what I might see.
I might see a bear or I might see a moose,

and so I'm, I'm always looking around very
carefully and paying attention.

I was leaning over with
some clippers in my hands,

reaching for something that was sticking
out just obstructing the path,

and I was just cutting that off.

And suddenly, something hit
me really hard from behind.

NARRATOR: A large animal
slams Caren to the ground and

begins crushing her with its weight.

She struggles but is no match
for such an aggressive attacker

It was just so fast that
I really just heard myself fall.

You didn’t have time to think.

Didn't even know what happened, really.
I didn't see anything.

I didn't really hear anything,

was just suddenly hit by something, just
knocked me right over.

I was laying on my right side on my face.
I look up and I can just see the legs.

I could see that it
was the legs of a moose.

NARRATOR: The moose, the
largest and heaviest species

in the deer family.

Growing up to seven feet tall
and weighing over 1500 pounds.

Although generally seen
as docile, sedentary animals,

moose can be aggressive and are capable of
running up to 35 miles per hour.

Doctor Jessy Coltrane is
a wildlife biologist for

the Montana Department
of Fish, Wildlife and Parks,

and has been studying
these animals for over 20 years

Moose are not predatory,
you know, they're herbivores.

And so if you look at it
from a behavioral standpoint,

moose are the prey item, um,
for a lotta different species.

And so when people have
negative encounters with moose,

it's a defensive reaction.
"You've entered my space bubble.

You got too close to me and I feel
threatened, and I need to defend myself."

CAREN: Just incredible force,
like a, a car hit you.

It's instant.
You don't have time to think.

You don't play dead or anything like that.

Just suddenly,
something hits you really hard,

and you're, and you're down.

You know, it's very rare that we
see moose actually kill people,

but people have been
seriously injured by moose.

No, no, no!

JESSY: You know, when they
perceive something as a threat,

they wanna neutralize it.
So they're gonna charge it, knock it down,

and they're gonna stomp
it until it stops moving.

CAREN: You're laying down on
the ground, gasping for breath.

And I'm in a lotta pain.
Every breath really hurt.

And I was hoping I could call 9-11
before I lost consciousness.

I was a little scared 'cause I didn't
know how badly I was hurt.

Think about a moose in the wild and

they're defending their,
their calves from wolves,

they're gonna stomp that wolf
until it doesn't move anymore,

and they're gonna use
their hooves to do it.

A moose is an ungulate and
they have, uh, basically,

cloven hoofs.
They're made out of hard keratin,

and they come to points at the end.

And it's those points
that can really do some damage

when they drive 'em down.
A blow from a moose can

not only create a significant
impact that can break bones,

but their hoofs are sharp enough to, like,
actually lacerate your skin as well.

NARRATOR: After stomping
and kicking furiously,

the moose finally relents,
retreating to the woods.

But Caren is badly hurt.

CAREN: I was having trouble breathing.
It was hard to take a deep breath.

And when you can't breathe, yeah,
other things don't bother you as much.

If you watch a
moose stomping something,

they're just kind of legs everywhere,
aiming for center mass.

Most people get kicked in the head,

they get kicked in the back,
they get kicked all over.

We see injuries like broken ribs,

broken collar bones,
lots of head injuries.

I was just really concentrating on
the fact that it was hard to breathe.

And then I look up and I see the moose,

it's turning around and
it's coming back towards me.

NARRATOR: In the far reaches of
northeastern Canada, Matt, Rick

and their tour group are
facing down a large polar bear

heading right for them.

About 40 yards away,
and it's coming toward us,

just like this.

Rich and Marta, the
two leaders of the trip,

carried flare guns, and I thought,
"Wow, that's really, that's pretty cool."

I've never, never handled
or seen a flare gun before.

The thought did occur to me,

"None of us have
anything stronger than that?"

It's the only weapon we had.

And it wasn't even a weapon,
I mean, it was a flare gun.

Visitors to any
National Park in Canada

are not allowed to carry firearms, with
the exception of the Inuit,

who are hired as bear guards.

In polar bear country,
you need a firearm.

There is no way around this.
You need to have an adequate caliber,

and you need to have that
firearm in trained hands.

And in a National Park, visitors
typically can't carry firearms.

And that's why in
the Torngat Mountains,

the park administration
recommends that you hire

a local Inuit bear guard
who is equipped, experienced,

and licensed to carry a
firearm and use it if necessary.

So, that bear he
got close enough that Rich,

he shot that flare off.

And that bear took off.

- Thank God.
- But the bear did not run very far.

He went up kinda up on this ridge and sat
there and watched us.

Theory behind using
deterrents like noise makers and

flares is that it scares the bear,

and if there is no
painful stimulus associated

with the surprise, very,
very quickly a bear is gonna

do what biologist call habituating,
it's just not gonna respond.

Are they, are they better than
having nothing? Yes.

But you probably don't
wanna rely a whole lot on them.

MATT: For the whole rest of the day,

we went back to camp, but that
bear sat there and watched us.

Seeing the size of this bear,
and then looking at, you know,

a two and a half foot high
fence with plastic stakes

running off two D-cell batteries.
So that, you're thinking that,

you're thinking that,
but what else are you gonna do?

You can't run. You can't hide.

You stay there and you convince yourself
that it's gonna be okay.

We drank a lotta tea that afternoon,

and we told each other stories,
and we talked about ourselves.

This is when we really
got to know each other.

And we went to bed that night with that
polar bear a half a mile away,

lying on that shelf,
watching us watching him.

We went to bed in the safety
of our electrical enclosure.

Again, no sentry, no watch person.

I got up in the middle of
the night to go to the bathroom.

I remember stepping over that fence.
I look up and the bear is gone.

He's gone.
I felt so relieved.

Thank frigging God that think thing left.
And went to sleep.

It was around 2:00 in the morning,
the moon had come out, and I woke up.

I'm laying on my back in
my sleeping bag, and I look up,

and over the top of the tent
I see the shadow of a bear.

Oh boy.
So, I started screaming.

Bear in the camp! Bear in the camp!

The, the polar bear
just started pommeling me.

I was screaming.
I can't, I was trying to protect my head.

I knew what he was doing,
on some level, and he got me.

He got my head in his mouth.

DOUGLAS: The bear is doing
exactly what polar bears do.

It's pounded its way into a structure
to gain access to prey,

and then it grabs the prey
with its jaws and pulls it out.

That's exactly what they do with seals.

And right now, the bear is treating Matt
the way it would treat a seal.

Bears typically grab by the head,

because if you've got the head,
you can anchor an animal and

you can do a lotta damage to debilitate
the animal very quickly.

In a situation where a
polar bear doesn't really know

what a human is capable of and
it considers it kind of like it

would another bear, which
would be a bit of baseline,

the jaws are kind of a
primary weapon system.

So, when bears fight,
they use their jaws and

they lock their jaws.
So, if you've got something by the head,

you know it can't use its jaws on you.

MATT: Then he stood up
and he just ripped me,

right through the wall of the tent.

I felt like a champagne cork
coming outta the bottle.

Just boom!

DOUGLAS: The head of an
adult polar bear is probably

about the size of an average human torso.

So, there's a whole lotta muscle there,

and that's where a
long neck, big jaw gape,

and a lot of neck musculature,
you know, allow you to pull that,

you know, 60, 80, 100,
120 pound seal straight up and

through the ice and out.

So, yeah, no trouble at all to pick a
grown man up by the head,

and carry that person away.

RICK: We were all out
of the tents in a flash.

And I see Matt being dragged away

by this enormous polar bear

- who had him by the head.
- He starts running, dragging me.

Off we went.

This bear, probably,
now that it’s got something warm

and bleeding in its mouth,
and the bear is likely trying

to get Matt somewhere where it can
concentrate on finishing a meal,

to be really blunt about it.

And, uh, it wants to be
undisturbed while it carries on.

People say, "You fought the bear."
There was no fighting.

There was no fight, okay.
I could see everything.

I was wide awake.
The hair on its belly tinged with reddish,

the feet going, and I'm getting dragged.

The frigging, the breath.
The breath was so foul-smelling.

We were waking up into
the worst possible nightmare.

I never imagined, never in a million years
would I have ever thought

something as violent and tragic like this
could happen on the trip.

A bear attack!

north of Anchorage, Alaska.

After a brief retreat,
the moose attacking Caren Della Cioppa

returns to trample her again.

I just the hooves.
I don't really see the rest of the body.

And it jumps on me and does, like,

a little dance on me, and
tromping on my back and side.

So, moose can
literally kick their legs

in all different directions.

Every single leg can
go forward, backward, sideways.

I'm 105 pound,
five foot two woman against

a 800, 900 pound animal.
It's not a fair fight.

I'm not going to win.
They move fast.

They're extremely fast,

and heavy, and so it's
such a tremendous force.

With the type of
behavior that we see happening

with this cow moose being
this aggressive towards someone

who is not doing anything
aggressive towards this moose,

it's highly probable that
she has calves very close by,

if not at her side.

The most dangerous moose
you're ever going to encounter

is a cow with very young calves.

From a moose perspective,
anything and anyone is a threat

to their calves if they get too close.

Doesn't matter if it's a
dog or a bear or a person.

It's about being too close to my kids.

NARRATOR: As the attack continues,

Caren lies helpless under the moose’s
powerful stomps and kicks.

CAREN: It kicked my head, and
then it suddenly, it runs off.

I figured she was satisfied,
and I wasn't moving,

so she probably figured she'd killed me.
I'm in a lot of pain now.

You know, I was really
having trouble breathing.

And I knew I couldn't crawl to the house,
I was hurting too bad.

So I knew I needed to call an ambulance.
I reach for my cell phone and call 911.

And I said, uh, "I don't know
if they'll be able to find me."

I have a friend, Mark, and
I gave them his phone number

because he'll, he'll
know where the trail is,

'cause it's a trail behind my house.

And I don't know what internal
injuries I could’ve had.

I, I felt I could be in trouble
'cause of the pain in my chest.

I remember being really glad
that I could move everything,

because that could've broken my back,

and I was so afraid she
was gonna come back and

hit me some more.

NARRATOR: Deep in the Torngat Mountains
of northeastern Canada,

a large polar bear rips
Matt Dyer from his tent and

drags him into the darkness where it
continues the violent assault.

MATT: You're getting dragged along.
My head just clamped in his mouth.

I had no pow...
No ability to resist or fight back.

I mean, you're, you're just being dragged.

You feel the pressure of
the jaws on your head, and,

I could feel and hear bones cracking.

Well at that point, I
knew that I was gonna die.

I mean, there was
absolutely no doubt about it.

And I can remember a voice,
my own voice, saying to myself,

"You're gonna die now, you know?"
And my other self responds,

"Yes, I know."
And then I hear, I hear a whoosh,

and I saw a flash of light.

RICK: Fortunately, the leaders of the trip
were quick on the trigger.

They had their flare guns and they fired
at the bear, like, three volleys.

And the bear stopped.

And that bear dropped me.

And then the bear
turns around and comes back.

DOUGLAS: So, the bears
curiosity in a situation like

this is gonna keep it, driving it forward.

And a bear will very,
very quickly learn that

a launched flare that doesn't burn its fur
isn't something to be afraid of.

So, the effectiveness of the,
of that as a deterrent would be

dropping like a stone.

And that's a really serious
potential turning point in this

whole episode because
that bear starts coming back,

and that means that their
toolkit is now down one tool.

MATT: I could still hear
that bear walking around on

that pebbly beach.

He was coming back.

And I just, I can remember laying there
on the ground saying,

"Go away, bear. Go away, bear."
I could hear them screaming,

I could hear them screaming and hollering.

Then I saw another one
go off, another flare.

And now the bear runs
and runs off into the twilight.

We can't see where it went.
And we wait.

"Is the bear gonna come back?"
It seemed like forever.

And then we decided, "Okay, let's fan out.
Let's try and find him."

MATT: And I, I could hear
all of them coming down.

I could see the little head lamps.

It was a lot of ridges and gullies,

and nobody knew quite where
the bear had dropped Matt.

MATT: I tried to wave, you know,
"Here I am," but I couldn't.

I couldn't move.
I was just, just laying there.

I found him.
I found him lying in one of those gullies,

covered with blood.
I thought he was dead.

I thought he was, I thought he was dead.

And I remember him just
rolling over and looking at me,

and saying, "My jaw is broken."
But he was alive.

He was awake.
So, I call the rest of the group to come.

They picked me up, haul me off.

They got me up to our campsite,

and everything was just ******* smashed.

The fence was just laying
there with sparks coming off it

after that bear had come right through.

RICK: It was 2:30 in the morning.
It was, it was, it was dark,

it was cold, it was windy.
So we erected a tent over Matt.

It was remarkable how everybody
just snapped into action.

Marta was on the satellite phone
trying to call for help.

Rich was getting two of the other folks
set up with flare guns,

standing back-to-back
facing opposite directions,

watching for bears.

Everybody had a job, and it
was my job to take care of Matt.

Rick was a doctor.
Thank God.

It'd been 15 years
since I practiced medicine.

And I'm a gynecologist,
what do I know about trauma?

I felt overwhelmed.

Finding all of his wounds,
trying to bandage them.

I ran out of bandages in
the first-aid kit in seconds.

And there we are, we're tearing
up bandanas, tearing up shirts.

The realization settled in pretty quickly
as I was tending to Matt

that this was a severely injured man.

NARRATOR: After a brutal moose attack,

an incapacitated and terrified Caren
Della Cioppa

listens to the thud of
the animals hoofs nearby.

Responding to her 911 call,
state troopers arrive on the scene.

CAREN: The troopers came,
and they were talking to me and

they were kinda checking me out.
And, and then I heard, I heard her.

I heard the thunder of hoofs.
And I remember yelling,

"Don't let her get me!
Don't let her get me!"

You just don't see this repeated
type of defensive behavior,

from a moose, a cow moose in particular,
unless she has calves.

And so, the behavior that you're
seeing is completely normal.

were saying something, and,

and I'm, and I'm yelling,
and then I hear, I hear shots.

And I knew they had shot her.

JESSY: This was a really unfortunate
situation for both Caren and the moose.

It was the trooper's
responsibility to ensure that

everyone on scene was gonna be safe,

and really their only
option at that point in time,

was to, unfortunately, put down that cow.
And it does happen.

It's pretty infrequent, but
in Alaska it's something that

wildlife officials do have to deal with.

CAREN: After that, the ambulance arrived.

They started an IV and
they put me on oxygen.

And I was glad I was still alive,
because it could've killed me.

NARRATOR: In the subarctic wilderness of
Torngat Mountain National Park,

Matt Dyer clings to life after
being mauled by a polar bear.

His injuries are extensive.

I didn't know what was wrong with me
other than I was just busted up,

as if kinda like getting hit by a truck.

RICK: The bear had really
mangled his hands and his arms.

He had an enormous gash
on the side of his neck.

I could see his windpipe, his trachea.

And Matt had increasing
difficulty breathing.

He was oozing from 40 more different
spots on his upper body,

but no pumping blood vessel.
The bear had not hit an artery anywhere.

And I, I thought to myself, "Thank God."
All I had was a first-aid kit,

and a pretty meager first-aid kit at that.
If he had had one pumping artery,

I had nothing, I had nothing.

It took an hour or so, maybe,
to bandage all the wounds,

and then we waited.

So, I crouched next to
Matt for all this time and

just talked to him.
"You're gonna be okay.

I got this.
You're surviving.

You're still with us."
And all he said, over and over again, was,

"Thank you, thank you.
Thank you."

While I'm giving him all
these soothing, comforting,

caring messages,
my fear just grew and grew.

I was terrified that I
would do something wrong,

that I would miss something.

What if something
happens and I can't handle it?

In the back of my head, all my
demons have been called forward.

All of my childhood trauma,
all of my medical trauma,

all the things that I
have seen in my career are

flashing through my head with the message,
"You don't know what you're doing.

You're going to miss something.
You're gonna make a mistake.

And if this man survives,

it will be despite
you not because of you."

That haunted me.

But I remember a Jewish prayer,

and the message is,

"I look to the mountains
from whence my help comes.

I look to the mountains
from whence my help comes."

And that was a comfort.

He told me afterwards, while
he was so grateful to have had

a physician on the trip,
little did he know he had

a rusty gynecologist,
what meant the most to him,

what he remembered the most,
was me holding his hand and

- talking to him.
-The people I was with, they,

they would come in
one at a time into the tent,

you know, to spell each other,
and they talked to me.

And ask me, you know...

Just very kind.

And I’ll never forget that.

That was a very powerful,
very spiritual time.

NARRATOR: Tour guide,
Marta, eventually reaches

the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police via sat-phone.

They will dispatch a helicopter rescue,
but given the group's remote location,

it will be hours before help arrives.

You can't move or anything, but my
mind is fully functional.

I can remember I could
hear the camp stove start up.

I could smell coffee.

Oh my God, I wanted a
cup of coffee so bad.

I also wanted a cigarette.
I hadn't smoked in 15 years...

But, I mean, for whatever reason, I...

"Oh, if could just have a coffee
and a cigarette right now,

that would be great."
But, of course, I could...

I couldn't.

RICK: After the initial
enormous adrenaline rush,

the reality of the situation
settles in 'cause it's quiet,

and it's cold, and here
we are this little speck in

the middle of this enormous,
enormous wilderness.

No other human being
around for hundreds of miles.

No place to run.

There was no place to run,
so you just gotta do the job

that's in front of you.

But the knowledge that there
are other bears roaming around.

Probably, just as hungry
and just as desperate as

the poor bear that came after us.

DOUGLAS: At this point,
the group doesn't know where

the bear is after it's dropped Matt and
then left for the second time.

You have to not lose sight
of the fact that there might be

other bears around that you're going to
have to worry about at some point.

There are documented
cases where polar bears have

injured multiple people in a group.
There's the saying it's,

"It's not the bear in front
of you, you have to worry about,

it's the bear behind you."

It was absolutely terrifying.
And we had three flares left, that's it,

between the two people
who were standing guard,

each with a flare gun.
Three flares left.

I mean, it took five to, to, to scare
off that bear that one time.

We felt completely defenseless,
completely defenseless.

NARRATOR: For the next six hours,
the group takes turns tending to Matt and

keeping watch around
the perimeter of the camp.

At some point, I hear a helicopter.

RICK: It's like the
cavalry coming over the hill.

The helicopter flying
maybe 15 feet above the ground.

The sun had come out.
I think that's what they were waiting for.

The helicopters couldn't
get in to get us because

the weather was so bad.

RICK: Fortunately, the
helicopter brought a bear guard.

So they had a man with a rifle,

who as soon as he landed, started pointing
out all the polar bears in the vicinity.

"Over there, a mile away,
that's not a white rock, that's,

that's a polar bear.

And that one, over there,
see him in the distance?

That's a polar bear."

And then he points at the route we were
planning to take into the mountains.

He says, "Yep, there's two right there."
And I go, "Oh, great."

We didn't realize the degree
to which we were being watched.

It was terrifying.
It was shocking.

And I counted 16 polar bears right in
the vicinity of our camp.

Right in the vicinity of our camp.

DOUGLAS: This could've been
considerable worse for the group

if they had had
multiple bears to deal with,

because when you're in a place where a
whole population of polar bears

is on shore because
of seasonal sea-ice melt,

that's not an
inconceivable situation, and,

you know, frankly,
that's why that National Park

recommends that visitors
come in with armed bear guards.

We were literally
surrounded by polar bears,

and we didn’t have a clue.
We were being hunted.

And we didn't know.

NARRATOR: Beaten down from a moose attack,

Caren is rushed to a
hospital in nearby Anchorage.

CAREN: They took me
right to the emergency room.

I had a big bruise on my leg,

and my whole right side
was black and blue and,

I had a big bruise in
the back of my head,

and a hoof mark on my forehead.
So, my collar bone was broken,

I still don't know
how many ribs were broken.

JESSY: Caren, actually, was pretty lucky.

We've seen other injuries issued by
moose that have caused,

you know, severe head injuries,
and even a couple of fatalities.

In any given year in Alaska, we typically
have more people injured

by moose than even brown or black bears.

And luckily, negative wildlife
encounters with these species

you can count on one hand, typically.

So it's still very uncommon.

NARRATOR: Caren leaves
the hospital the next day and

returns home to make a full recovery.

A couple of days later,
I was watching the news and

I saw the, the troopers take two calves
out of my neighbor's yard.

They were the calves from
the moose that attacked me.

Only one of the calves survived.
One of them died immediately.

They felt that the mother that stomped on
me was probably not healthy,

and that may be one of
the reasons she was so angry.

Because she wasn't healthy,

and she probably didn't have
enough milk to feed both babies,

and so the one was so undernourished
it didn't make it.

It's not surprising
that they found calves.

This attack happened in the spring and
cows are very, very defensive.

So when Caren went into her backyard,
she unknowingly provoked an attack.

And the only thing she
did was get too close.

A weeks later, I went
to their shelter for the moose,

I got to see all the
baby moose and they're so cute.

They have great big baby bottle and,

and you hold it real close
to their mouth and they'll,

they suck so hard.

They was almost, like, sucking
my whole hand in its mouth.

And it's really cute.
And they did rehabilitate it or

raise it till was able to be released.
And it's probably out there now.

You know, the best
way to avoid a moose attack is

to be very cognizant of your surroundings.

If you do happen to see a moose,
give it a lot of space.

Refrain from the impulse to
take a selfie or to get closer.

So we tell people, "Don't run form bears,
but definitely run from a moose."

It's not a predatory animal.

It's, you're not gonna trigger
some kinda predatory response.

If you can't get away, get
something substantial between

you and that moose.
So, a vehicle, or a tree, or a building.

If the moose does catch up
with you and make contact,

and knocks you to the ground,
then protect your head and

your vital organs by rolling up in a ball,

and put your hands over your
head if you can, and stay down.

CAREN: It took me several years to really
wanna walk around my trail.

And even now, sometimes
I'm a little nervous when

I walk around that little trail.
I'm really looking over both shoulders.

I think it's just that memory,

it's still there's, especially when I walk
by the exact place where it happened.

Yeah, it sorta sticks with me.

NARRATOR: In Torngat National Park,
the emergency medical team

rushes to stabilize Matt for transport.

RICK: We load Matt
onto the helicopter and,

of course, the doctor
goes with his patient.

The rest of the group had to wait.

They stayed there, they stayed there 12
hours waiting for a fishing boat to

come pick them up.

NARRATOR: Matt and Rick make the 20-hour
journey to Montreal General Hospital,

stopping at
medical facilities along the way

in order to keep him alive.

And the next thing I knew,
I woke up in the hospital.

And my wife...

There she was...

And I couldn't say anything, I couldn't...

'Cause, you know, your right, full of
tubes and everything.

I had a broken jaw.
This hand had been crushed.

My neck, some of the
vertebrae were broken.

So they put a hole in my
throat and put a tube out.

And the, the people on the trip,
they had all come to see me,

and they stayed for a little while.
And I, and I remember that.

I remember seeing them,

all of 'em standing
down at the end of the bed.

RICK: I remember visiting Matt in the ICU.

He's bandaged from head to foot.
He look like a mummy.

He's got casts on both arms.
He can't talk.

And his, you know, his eyes are sparkling,

and his sense of humor
is radiating even though

he's in the middle of
the intensive care unit

two days after having
gotten attacked by a bear.

And with one finger
sticking out of the cast,

he's pointing at a letter chart and I am
reading as he's pointing.

He writes, "You saved my life."

We have a, a bond like you
cannot believe, at this point.

It's a trauma bond,
but I feel deeply connected to that man.

The next thing he spelled out was,
"Will you take me break dancing?"

Like, come on.

And then, "Will you
come for a lobster bake?"

MATT: I don't know if we
hadn't had Rick there whether

I would've made it.
I really don't.

If this is what you went
to medical school for, well,

you pay, I'd pay your
student loans if I could.

But, I can't.

DOUGLAS: The important things
to remember from this situation

are that this was normal polar bear
behavior at a normal time of year.

It is perfectly normal for polar bears
to seek to prey on people.

Doesn't happen every day.
Doesn't happen inevitably.

But it is part of their
normal suite of behaviors,

and it's incumbent on us not
to put ourselves in situations

where bears are given an
opportunity to make that choice.

There is not doubt in my mind that
that bear was hanging around,

he was interested in us, very interested,
as a source of food.

And that, you know what?
That's okay.

That's what a,
that's what a polar bear does.

It's the bear, and it's
the moon, and then the stars.

And the, those stars are one for every
one of my companions on

that trip that helped me.

And it was all part of my healing process.

We live on this planet,
and we think we got it,

we're the top of the food chain,
we're the, we're the humans, we,

we run this show.

And you go to a place
like this and you realize,

"No, no, we're just tiny little specks,

and Mother Nature holds the power.

And this one animal bringing
the, the, the force and

power of Mother Nature
directly into my lap."

I don't think I’ll every
look at the world the same way.

It was a very humbling experience.