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'This is how I die?'; Aspen bear attack survivor recalls thinking he wouldn't make it

Colorado Parks and Wildlife used dogs to track the bear. A spokesperson said it was captured and euthanized the same day as the attack.

PITKIN COUNTY, Colo — On July 10, Dave Chernosky woke up to loud noises coming from his kitchen around 1:30 a.m. He knew there was a possibility that this wasn't the average intruder. 

"I hope this isn't a bear, that's not going to be good," Chernosky said of his thought process at the time. 

Unfortunately for Chernosky, his intuition proved to be spot on as he entered the kitchen.

"It had opened the freezer, the refrigerator, and two cupboards. I didn’t even realize it had eaten the brown sugar and blueberries," he told 9NEWS.

As his children slept, the 55-year-old calmly tried to coax the bear outside while keeping the kitchen island between the two. His strategy worked. The bear turned to leave. It even made its way into the garage but got spooked and ran back inside the house.

"It seemed like I was doing everything the right way, and then there was a split second where it just sort of fell apart," Chernosky said.   

It's hard to say who was more surprised when the man and the bear met in the dark hallway, but it was the bear who had the upper hand. "I literally just turned the corner and was like, 'oh!' And bam! He hit me," Chernosky told 9NEWS.

The bear swiped Chernosky across the face, chest, and back. His injuries were severe but doctors called him lucky. They told him the bear had stopped just a quarter inch away from his carotid artery. 

Credit: Dave Chernosky
Chernosky was taken to Grand Junction for surgery.

"I literally went from thinking, 'this is it. This is how I die? Like, this is bizarre.' That’s literally what my first thought was when I ran behind the table, I’m like, 'seriously? I’m going to get killed by a bear,'" Chernosky said.

The father made it to the hospital in Aspen and was later taken to Grand Junction for surgery. His stitches were removed Monday. He told 9NEWS his recovery his going quickly and smoothly.

After being swiped, the father changed tactics. "The other thing they tell you is if all else fails then get big, scream, and be loud. So, I mean I didn’t really have to think about it. I just started screaming at the top of my lungs as loud as I could," he said.

According to Chernosky, the bear turned around, opened another door, and left. 

A spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said dogs tracked the bear's scent that day. It was captured and euthanized. He said they were "fairly certain" it was the right bear based on the hounds' tracking.

The bear suspected in the attack matches the description of a bear frequenting the Castle Creek neighborhood for several days, and could be the same bear reported getting into trash over the past few years, CPW said.

Past attempts by CPW to haze or capture the bear have been unsuccessful.

"it’s like a guilty feeling almost. It seemed like I was doing everything the right way and then there was that split second where it just sort of fell apart. So, in that sense, I kind of felt bad about it. At the same time, I realize it couldn’t stay because it would probably be back the next day," Chernosky said.

Prior to the attack, he and his family were planning to relocate to Aspen full-time. Chernosky told 9NEWS the attack hasn't changed their plans. 

"Colorado is to die for," he said.

RELATED: Bear euthanized after injuring woman south of downtown Manitou Springs

RELATED: Bear that attacked Aspen homeowner euthanized

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