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Posted on July 28, 2012 on

Black Bear Attacks a Rosebush Gardener

It's one thing to see them in a zoo. It's perhaps even more exhilarating to see them from a distance in the wild or rummaging through garbage in a remote dump. But to have an unexpected close-up encounter with one is usually an experience one struggles to forget.

Katy Yin now lives in a different house; has invested in air horns; carries a strong repellant spray; and always walks or gardens with her red poodle, using it as an early warning detection system. She has received counselling to help her forget her horrific experience.

Rosebush Attack
It was just another gardening morning in her yard in Port Coquitlam, BC as she worked on her rosebushes and enjoyed the outdoor August air. She stood up to give her back a rest and when she did she saw, at close-range, a black 250 pound bear stalking her and preparing to attack. Their eyes met.

"He's Going to Eat Me."
Mustering all the strength she had, as the bear lunged for her and sank his teeth into her head, she started to scream. The bear was chomping on her head. He knocked her over and turned her upside down, crushing her ribs and tearing her flesh. She screamed louder as the bear clawed her all over and chewed her arm, having already torn her scalp.

"I'm Not Ready to Die"
"He was going to eat me," she said. "It was a most horrible thing. He was not going away so I used all my energy to yell. I had lost so much blood. I thought in one more minute, I don't know if he is going to go for my heart. Then I thought: I am not ready to die - I have to fight."(1)

Helpless and Screaming

Yin tried to grab her gardening scissors and some rocks but nothing was possible. She realized she was absolutely helpless and all she could do was to scream for rescue. "I could not do anything,'' she said. "All I could do was just scream as hard as I could." (2)

A neighbor, Mike Cillo, said he was driving his van to a nearby mall with his 12-year-old son when he suddenly heard "terrifying screams" from someone in the West Plateau area. "We drove half a block down the street... We saw a bear over this lady and he was chewing on her," Mr. Cillo said. (3)

Rescuer Responds to Screams
Cillo responded to the helpless plight of the 49 year old lady. He honked his horn attempting to distract the bear. The bear grabbed Yin by the neck or by an arm and dragged her to the front door step of her home leaving a trail of blood. Cillo began to throw rocks at the bear and neighbors joined in. They managed to separate the bear from its victim and to keep the bear in the back yard until an ambulance arrived.

Hero of the Story
From her hospital bed, with countless wounds and deep bruises all over her body and 20 staples to repair her scalp, Katy Yin thanked many people; but there was one person who vividly stood out in her memory. Her deepest words of appreciation were reserved for the man she did not know at that point - the stranger who intervened in her life and rescued her. Yes, a neighbor - but unknown to her.

"He is the hero, he saved my life," Yin said. "If he had not tried to hit the bear, I am not sure if it would have given up. I would like to find this person and thank him." (4)

"My parents gave me life, but I say these people gave me a second life." (5)

Today, Yin is living that second life with a renewed sense of purpose. And Mike Cillo is her hero - along with all the others who helped.

Spiritual Reflections

  1. Far worse than a bear attack, sin has clawed and mauled the human race. Tragic new stories emerge every day of the damaging effects of sin and the toll it takes on individuals, families and society in general. The Bible clearly traces the origins of sadness, pain, and senseless brutality to sin in the human family.
  2. A person may struggle and work desperately hard to save themselves but from a spiritual perspective it is impossible. Self help efforts, support groups, and religious devotion cannot save a person from their own sins in the sight of God their Maker. We have no ability or strength to save ourselves. "When we had no strength to save ourselves, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly." Romans 5:6
  3. She knew she wasn't ready to die. All Katy Yin could do was desperately call for help; and it was her screams that caught the ear of Mike Cillo and caused him to intervene. God hears the calls of lost and helpless sinners. "Whoever calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13
  4. Mike Cillo was under no obligation to save Katy Yin but his heart was touched by her plight. God was under no obligation whatsoever to respond to sinners who had rebelled against Him and had deliberately chosen to keep sin in their life. But the story of the Bible is that the God of Grace responds to the desperate cries of sinners for salvation.
  5. Katy Yin was overwhelmed with gratitude as she thought of Mr. Cillo rescuing her. When a lost sinner discovers that Jesus died on the Cross to rescue them from their sins, they immediately thank Jesus for dying for them. A close bond between the two is established forever. Christ becomes their hero. Once an intense hater of Christianity, Paul wrote in AD 55 about the Rescuer whom God provided: "Thanks be to God for His unspeakable and indescribable Gift." 2Corinthians 9:15. Sounds like gratitude!!
  6. Katy Yin felt she was living a new life - a second life. Her parents gave her life - but her rescuers gave her a second life. In John Chapter 3 Jesus emphasized the absolute necessity of the new birth to be in God's family. Our first birth brought us into life and our natural family. But through faith in Christ, we are born into God's family and we begin Phase Two of our lives. Paul wrote AD 49: "The life that I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20.
  • Have you ever called on the Lord to save you from your sins?
  • Have you ever been spiritually saved?
  • Have you ever thanked Jesus Christ for His death on the Cross?
  • Who is the Hero in your life?


  4. Ibid.


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