Vermont woman survives bear attack

WINHALL, Vt. – It was kind of a perfect storm involving a daily household routine and a wildlife misadventure. It was also a harrowing story of survival. A woman was pulled from the jaws of an angry bear by her boyfriend. Both were able to walk away intact and live another day to tell their story.

Sarah Dietl and Robert Montuoro say they feel lucky to be alive. Even though they’ve been left with physical and emotional scars, they’re not ready to blame any bears for their misfortune.

At 10:00 p.m. Wednesday night, Sarah opened the front door to her condominium at the base of Stratton Mountain Ski Resort to let her dog out. Bodhi, a Shih Tzu, proceeded to chase a bear cub up a tree, much to the displeasure of an angry and over protective mama bear.

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“I think I tried to fight, but I just ended up in a fetal position trying to protect my head,” Dietl recalled. “Thankfully Bobby came out in time and he pulled the bear off me with a flashlight.”

Montuoro slammed the mama bear in the head with a flashlight, and pulled Dietl into the foyer to safety, as the bear continued to charge at them.

“I slammed the door and the window, hit her in the face and then watched my dog go running and the bear ran with the dog,” Bobby stated.

The couple was safe but Dietl needed medical help. After a trip to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, about an hour away from Stratton Mountain where the attack took place, Dietl was left with 15 staples in her head, stitches in her face, a gash on her hip, and scrapes and bruises all over her body.

“It’s easy for me to get mad at the bear for mangling my girlfriend and us going through this, but we’re (us humans) asking for it,” Montuoro said.

Believe it or not, neither of them feel sorry for the bear, blaming humans for destroying and then moving in to their habitat.

“We’re on the Green Mountain Forest. We’re guests and we’re building these properties and we get mad at them when they show up,” Montuoro said. “Neither one of us want to hurt an animal. I feel bad for hitting the bear.”

After posting a reward for the safe return of Bodhi, the dog returned home hours after the ordeal.

Dietl and Montuoro say they’re fairly sure the mama bear that attacked them is the same bear that’s been seen many times in the area over the past several weeks, including once climbing up onto their deck 18 feet off the ground to fetch bird seed.