Navy veteran has jaw torn off during bear attack — but manages to keep his sense of humor

News & Politics

A Navy veteran had his jaw torn off during a ferocious bear attack in Montana. Despite the horrific mauling, the man has managed to keep his sense of humor.

Rudy Noorlander is in critical but stable condition after being viciously attacked by a large bear.

On Friday, Noorlander was assisting two hunters track down a deer that they had shot and killed. He rented out ATVs to the hunters from his rental company.

His daughter, KateLynn Davis, said of her father, “Rudy, being the good Samaritan that he is, decided to help them search for it.”

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The group went to find the deer in Custer Gallatin National Forest – just outside Big Sky – roughly 55 miles north of Yellowstone National Park.

While on the Yellow Mule Trail, Noorlander noticed a small bear. The 61-year-old took out his rifle to scare away the animal. However, he was ambushed by a much larger bear when he was distracted.

“Rudy aimed his gun at the bear but his firearm misfired, making his best choice of defense his fists as he did not have any time to get his bear spray from his backpack,” his daughter explained. “As the bear lunged, the only thing Rudy could do was punch the bear in hopes of slowing it down. Unfortunately, it did not, and after the first punch the grizzly was on top of Rudy.”

The hunters were able to scare off the bear and call for help.

However, the brutal bear attack left Noorlander unconscious and seriously wounded. He remained unconscious for two hours because the rescue team in a helicopter reportedly needed to wait for another rescue helicopter in case there were still bears in the area.

Rudy was airlifted to Bozeman Health Deaconess Regional Medical Center in Montana, where he had surgery. He was then airlifted to the University of Utah Hospital for further treatment.

The savage animal attack reportedly left Noorlander with nightmarish injuries, including having his lower jaw ripped off by the 10-foot grizzly bear.

“The bear broke part of his throat, so they’re putting a plate down in there to stabilize it. Then [in about a week and a half,] they’re going to do the major reconstruction surgery where they take the bone out of his leg and reconstruct the chin and everything,” Kary Noorlander Lyman, Noorlander’s sister, told KTSU.

The grizzly bear also left large scratches on Noorlander’s chest, arms, and legs.

Despite the soul-crushing bear attack, Noorlander hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

“One of the nurses, when he first came in, said, ‘We understand you’re kissing bears,’ and he wrote on [a board], ‘Bear French kiss ME.’ And she said, ‘Oh, bad breath?’ And he said, ‘Yes,'” Lyman said.

Noorlander wrote on the board that his goal was “to make someone smile.”

KateLynn started a GoFundMe campaign to assist with Rudy’s medical bills.

“Rudy is a Navy Veteran and has VA insurance but due to the surgeries and his time in the hospital he will need additional funding to help pay for his extensive medical bills,” the listing read.

The campaign has raised more than $40,000 in four days.

The U.S. Forest Service implemented an emergency closure in the area near the animal attack to track down the grizzly bear. Authorities say the bear may have been shot.

(WARNING: Graphic video)

Man recovering in Utah after mauled by grizzly bear while deer tracking in

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