By JASON BERGREEN
Salt Lake Tribune
July 29, 2008
But as he stood near his truck in the parking lot of the Kenai Princess Lodge in Cooper Landing, Alaska, the 43-year-old oil field worker realized just how wrong he was.
"I heard a bear growl, he said by phone Friday. "It was really deep."
VinZant is being hailed as a hero last week for saving the life of 21-year-old Utahn Abigail Sisk.
An 8-foot-tall grizzly attacked her about 11 p.m. Wednesday, ripping part of her scalp off and dragging her several feet from a dirt road near the lodge where she works this summer.
VinZant, a guest at the lodge, instinctively ran toward the growling, which was coming from a hiking trail between the Kenai River and the deck of the lodge. As he crested a hill, he looked down and saw the grizzly.
"I saw the bear actually on top of her pinning her down," VinZant said.
The Wasilla, Alaska, resident yelled and ran at the grizzly, which stood on its hind legs and stared at him. VinZant stopped. He yelled at the bear again and it shuffled off toward the river.
Sisk was conscious but the bear had bitten her scalp and back. "I could see there was quite a lot of blood," VinZant said.
VinZant ordered his 15-year-old daughter, Andria, back to the truck to get his .44-caliber handgun. She returned with the gun and then ran to the lodge for help.
"I opened the door and pretty much screamed at the room, 'Dial 911, there's been a bear attack'," Andria VinZant said.
Sisk was transported to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage where she underwent emergency surgery. Her mother said Friday that she was doing well.
VinZant is a gas plant operator and volunteer fireman in the oil fields in Prudhoe Bay and has lived in Alaska for 27 years. This was not his first encounter with a bear, but it was his first time running one off.
"I questioned my sanity after it was over," VinZant said. "I ran at a bear with no weapon."
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