CODY - Two men were injured by a grizzly bear while recreating south of Cody on Saturday, Oct. 15, according to a press release issued Monday morning by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Kendell Cummings, from Evanston, Wyoming, was flown by helicopter to a Billings hospital, and Brady Lowry, from Utah, was transported by ambulance to a local hospital. Both men are sophomores and members of the Northwest College wrestling team in Powell, Wyoming.
The press release states the men encountered the bear at close range in heavy cover while recreating and antler hunting west of the Bobcat-Houlihan trailhead on the Shoshone National Forest Saturday afternoon.
Cummings and Lowry were with two other teammates, Orrin Jackson and August Harrison, but were separated from them at the time of the attack.
The grizzly bear first attacked Lowry, leading Cummings to take the courageous act of jumping onto the bear's back to get it away from his teammate and friend. That led the bear to then turn and start attacking Cummings.
“It was horrific. The boys exhibited courage that people can’t even imagine,” said head wrestling coach Jim Zeigler Monday. "They do love each other and we communicate constantly through group text and one of the things I always say to them is, you know, thank you for loving each other, and it paid [off]. ”
Zeigler said this area is a place the men knew and had been to before.
The individuals were able to call 911 from near the scene and Park County Search and Rescue was immediately called. Upon notification, Wyoming Game and Fish Department personnel also responded to the scene. With the assistance of a hunter in the area, a local resident and other members of their party, the two men were able to reach the trailhead where they met Search and Rescue and were transported from the area.
“Special thanks to Park County Search and Rescue and the Park County Sheriff's Office for their quick response and coordination of the rescue,” said Dan Smith, Cody Region wildlife supervisor.
Game and Fish is gathering more details, and the investigation is ongoing. Based on the initial information, this appears to be a sudden, surprise encounter with a grizzly bear.
In the last few weeks, there has been an abundance of bear activity at low elevations throughout the South Fork and North Fork of the Shoshone River, Clarks Fork River and Greybull River drainages. Game and Fish encourages anyone recreating in these areas to use caution and be bear aware.
“In the vicinity where the attack occurred, reports from landowners and hunters indicate there may be six to 10 different bears moving between agricultural fields and low elevation slopes,” Smith said. “Game and Fish will continue to monitor bear activity in the area and work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make management decisions in the best interest of public safety.”
“This is a sad and unfortunate situation, we wish both victims a full and speedy recovery,” Smith said.
Both men suffered serious injuries and have undergone multiple surgeries since arriving in Billings from Saturday's attack. They are both expected to fully recover.
“They’ll have a lifelong bond over this. I hope that mentally, the trauma of this doesn’t stay with them in a negative way,” Zeigler said.
Northwest College has set up online fundraising for the two: