(UPI) -- A 69-year-old man attempted to help a woman who was being attacked by a polar bear near his home Thursday, and suffered serious lacerations when the bear turned on him.
But it would have been worse if neighbors hadn't rushed to his aid -- so quickly that one of them didn't have time to get dressed.
Bill Ayotte used a shovel fend off the bear long enough for the woman to escape. When the bear turned on him, his nude neighbor came to his defense.
Ayotte and the woman, 30, were taken to the hospital for their injuries and are both in stable condition.
The attack took place in front of the home of Churchill resident Doug Webber.
"The bear attacked a girl right outside our house, and our neighbor, Bill Ayotte, came out to try to scare the bear off," Webber said. "He managed to do that long enough for the girl to get into Bill’s house, bleeding from the head, but then Bill got attacked by the bear.”
"That’s when I woke up and went to the window and saw the bear kind of chewing on Bill," Webber explained.
"I went running out to help, and then a bunch of other people ran out, and two boys managed to scare the bear off. Then we put Bill in a pickup truck and took him to the hospital, and the ambulance came and took the girl to the hospital."
Adilia Shields watched the ordeal from her home. "I actually didn’t realize there was a person underneath the bear until I saw a hand waving. I panicked and started crying. It’s a miracle he’s OK. I’m still in shock.”
She mentioned “a kid” that assisted Ayotte by scaring off the bear.
"He had no clothes on, but he got in his car and tried to get it out of the way. He’s a hero."
Natural resources officers shot and injured one bear, and, while tracking it, shot and killed a second bear. A bear cub found near the scene was brought safely to Churchill’s polar bear holding facility.