20 years ago today…

20 years ago today on august 14th, 1994,
i woke up as a 4 year old not knowing that
i would almost lose my dad that day.
on this day he was attacked and mauled by a grizzly bear
in the tetons, our favorite summer vacation spot. he was 
out trail running to train for the boston marathon, and he
suddenly heard something behind him — he turned just  
in time to see a giant grizzly bear charging him. they 
collided, and the impact knocked my dad 10 feet off 
the trail. he was then attacked all over his body by 
the bear, being bit, clawed, and twisted around. the
bear took out his sartorius muscle in his leg, created
major wounds all over his body, and clawed open his
face all the way to his ear. i could go into more detail,
but i’ll spare you. he definitely thought he wasn’t 
going to make it. he tells us that he thought of 
all of us, about his life, about how his body might
be found here on this trail…and then he thought
to say a prayer. in the moment after his prayer,
he had the distinct impression to play dead.
that is what he did. he tried to breathe, slow
his pulse, and relax so the bear thought his
job was finished. after about a minute, the
bear stopped the mauling … stood up on his
hind legs, looked around as though being
distracted by something, and took off.
my dad was then stranded in the wilderness
on this trail at 6:00 am with no one around.
he had no choice but to drag himself about
a mile — almost bleeding to death — until he
reached a clearing. as he lay there, he looked
up and saw some wildlife photographers high
up on a ridge. he tried to scream out, but was
so weak that no sound came out. luckily they
saw him and cautiously made their way down.
these people are some of my heroes, because 
they saved my dad! they quickly took their shirts
off and ripped them up into tourniquets to stop some
of the bleeding. they helped keep him warm as he
was going into shock. then, one of the bravest
guys in this world went back in the direction the
bear had been to get help. he reached a ranger’s
station, and a life flight backcountry helicopter
was flown in to rescue him. he made it to the 
hospital, which was one of hundreds of miracles.
after hundreds of stitches, surgeries, discoveries
that some of the injuries had been within centimeters
of major arteries, and a pair of oakley sunglasses
saving his life, he recovered, was able to come home,
continue recovering, and qualify for the boston
marathon the next year. yes, i’m serious.
this is a very short version of the story missing
many details, so i’ll have to record him telling it
next time …. or send you all a copy of bears & prayers.
sound crazy? see some articles about it here
herehere, here, here, here, and here.
you can also see a more recent article here
( there are lots more where those came from :)
he was also on talk shows, and our entire
family was on the reality show “got home alive”
^^ his famous oakley sunglasses with the
bear claw mark that hit him in the eye.
those oakleys were so strong that it stopped
the claw from going through his eye, into
his brain and killing him. we love oakley 
products in our family ever since! :)
he also has a book on tape here.
he has spoken all over the world about this,
at countless firesides and conferences for our
church, at company meetings, and every single
bear talk i’ve been to — people are on the edge
of their seats. it is an amazing story that he tells
so well – with humor, detail, and gratitude.
 ^^ has a sense of humor about it,
all these years later
we celebrate this day every year on august 14th,
but this year my heart is especially full…on the 20th
anniversary, and a year that we can’t celebrate with 
i am more grateful for him than ever!
all i know is that i would have been the saddest 4 year old 
and now 24 year old had we lost him that day. behind all
the news stories and punch lines in the bear story, it is
the most sacred story to me. i know he was supposed to
survive because of all the good he has done for this world, 
for our family, for ME, for others, and for our church 
ever since. he has gone on literally “lived to tell the tale,” 
using the story not to brag about his own strength and 
will to survive, but instead to tell about the miracles 
he witnessed on this day. no one could tell this story 
with more humility and it is so powerful to hear him 
tell the story. 
 i’m teary just thinking about how different these 
last 20 years could have been…not just for me, but 
for our family, his many friends, clients, stake members, 
and countless others– most poignantly the current 
missionaries serving in the south africa mission! 
i LOVE you dad, and celebrate your survival and 
strength and humor and testimony and example. 
also– thanks for not letting them put down the bear
that attacked you — because i know somewhere out there
in the wild, that bear is celebrating your life today too :)
long may you ride…

'20 years ago today…' has 17 comments

  1. August 14, 2014 @ 10:54 pm Kat Harris

    so empowering!! I love this so much, what an amazing story em! LOVE YOU. xo


  2. August 14, 2014 @ 11:05 pm Kristen

    oh my gosh! i started bawling like a crazy person and my husband was like WHAT IS WRONG. seriously girl, this is amazing. thank you so much for sharing. your dad sounds fabulous. i think i need a pair of oakleys now!


  3. August 15, 2014 @ 1:36 am Jen

    Wow what a remarkable story and what a remarkable man your Dad is!


  4. August 15, 2014 @ 1:43 am Lisa Loves John

    Emi!! This is amazing! What an absolutely incredible story!!


  5. August 15, 2014 @ 4:14 am Mike Nelson

    Great tribute Emi!


  6. August 15, 2014 @ 5:35 am Julianne Clegg

    This is so cool! I can tell you love your dad so much. Your family is so close. Thank you for sharing him with South Africa. I know it’s really hard to send your parents off for 3 years at your age…my parents were directors at BYU Jerusalem center when I was your age…and it was a sacrifice for all of us, laced with tons of blessings. I know that your parents are shaping and changing lives! My son just started his mission there and he loves your parents so much already. They are so good to him and so powerful & compassionate as they lead! I’ve read a ton about this experience of your dad’s and listened to his radio thing on it a few years back, but it’s your account that tugs at my heart!


  7. August 15, 2014 @ 11:25 am getfithappyhealthy.com

    I stumbled across your blog through another blog and I just ahve to say this is the most inspiring blog post I have read all week, all month, heck – all year! truly inspirational! X


  8. August 15, 2014 @ 1:33 pm Katrina Elisabet

    I’ve got tears in my eyes. What an amazing testimony to the power of prayer and God’s intentional purpose for each of our lives!


  9. August 15, 2014 @ 1:50 pm KatiePerk

    What an amazing story!


  10. August 15, 2014 @ 2:34 pm From Ice Cream to Marathon

    Wow! What an incredible story! Thank God for keeping him alive, what a testimony!


  11. August 15, 2014 @ 2:46 pm Stephany Pando

    Such an incredible story Emi!! It’s amazing how he’s been able to share his testimony with so many people through this experience. And I totally laughed at that picture of him running from the bear statue!


  12. August 15, 2014 @ 4:09 pm Jexchurch

    wow that is crazy. I am glad you have been able to enjoy your dad due to his survival. What a champ!!


  13. August 15, 2014 @ 4:14 pm Brittany

    This is absolutely incredible. Thank you for writing about it! Also, he qualified for the Boston the next year?! What a guy.


  14. August 15, 2014 @ 6:22 pm Melissa

    Emi: That is so incredibly scary!! I can’t even imagine – your dad is a total bad-ass! So glad that he made it home to you and your family! Very inspiring!



  15. August 15, 2014 @ 7:17 pm Making Restorations

    Wow I don’t even know what to say, except thank you to both you and you’re family for sharing this story. I can’t even imagine the pain of recovery and the fear you all felt but I can see the wonder and the power of God in this. So thank you very much for sharing


  16. August 15, 2014 @ 8:11 pm ginger.maria.

    What a sweet tribute to your dad. I don’t even know you or him but I was tearing up while reading this story! Dads are the best.


  17. June 23, 2015 @ 3:44 pm Katie @ Katie Wanders

    Wow I just linked back to this from your fathers day post. This is an amazing and incredible story! What a fighter

    Katie @ Katie Wanders


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