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'How I tried to fend off savage attack by bear that buried me alive in forest'

By Olga Gertcyk and Maksim Yermakov
16 June 2015

Mother-of-three speaks for the first time about horror incident in woods and declares: 'Life is beautiful'

Natalya Pasternak, 54, was mauled as she was collecting birch sap in forests near Tynda and was only saved because the animal thought she was dead. Picture: Natalya Pasternak

A post office worker buried alive during a savage bear attack in the Amur region has spoken about her battle for survival and declared: 'How beautiful life is'.

Natalya Pasternak, 54, was mauled as she was collecting birch sap in forests near Tynda and was only saved because the animal thought she was dead. It then sought to bury her and hide her, as if safeguarding its next meal, with the mother-of-three’s friend managing to race off to raise the alarm.

Since the horror incident last month Natalya has fought for her life in hospital having suffered terrible injuries. But she is now beginning to make a recovery and has posted a photo on her social network site with the caption: 'How beautiful life is'.

And in her first interview since the attack she has told how she watched the animal rip her apart, and feared she would die in the woods.

Natalia Pasternak

Natalya is now beginning to make a recovery and has posted a photo on her social network site with the caption: 'How beautiful life is'. Picture: Natalya Pasternak

She said: 'When I saw the bear, I tried to escape. Then I remembered about my friend and stopped. That was the moment when the predator attacked me.

'The animal started to tear my legs apart, I tried to attack him with something I was using to collect birch sap. Then a quick thought hit me: 'If the bear takes my legs, I’ll be disabled for the rest of my life. It’s better to die then to be a burden to my children.'

Natalya had been with her friend Valentina Gorodetskaya, 80, and her dog in the woods when the bear appeared. The animal attacked the dog first before going for her.

She said she tried to hit the bear’s eyes and its neck, but it was too powerful.

Natalia Pasternak

Natalya, who previously worked as a baker in Tynda for 30 years, said: 'When I saw people, my first question was if they had killed the bear.' Picture: Natalya Pasternak

'Valentina was also hitting the bear with a stick and praying,' she recalled. 'For some time the bear switched to her and hit her on her back. Then it started tearing me apart again.

'Valentina escaped and, despite her age, she made it to water cleaning facilities and called the emergency services. Despite such a nightmare I didn’t go mad. A prayer that I was screaming out loud helped me.'

When rescuers and the police arrived, the bear was covering Natalya with leaves and soil before it was shot dead.

Natalya, who previously worked as a baker in Tynda for 30 years, said: 'When I saw people, my first question was if they had killed the bear.

'I’m feeling well now and they’re helping me a lot in the hospital. I can now stand up and walk a little bit with the help of my daughter. It’s terrible to imagine what could have happened if it wasn’t for baba Valya [Valentina]'.

Natalya lives with her student daughter, Ekaterina, who will soon be a qualified obstetrician. She has two other grown-up children, Vasiliy and Yaroslav.

Place of attack


Woman attacked by bear

When rescuers and the police arrived, the bear was covering Natalya with leaves and soil before it was shot dead. Pictures: Tynda TV

In the aftermath of the attack, gruesome pictures of the injuries she sustained were released to the public.

At the time, one of the first people on the scene was Sergei Ivanov, who ended up shooting the bear. He said: 'I looked and saw a woman, almost completed buried. Only her bloodied face and one arm was sticking out, but she was alive and breathing. She was conscious.

'She asked, 'Did you kill the bear?' Then she said, 'Dig me out'.

'I called to ambulance and the police. Most likely about one hour had passed since the attack to the moment I arrived. And all the while the poor woman suffered terribly.'

Comments (6)

I am glad to see that she is recovering. Kind of sad that the bear had to be killed, but it wasn't just defending territory or young, it was trying to kill and eat her so there wasn't much of a choice there.
Aki, Florida, USA
08/04/2016 05:30
1
1
Dear Natalya Pasternak,

I am so happy to hear you are doing well. Your recovery is a miracle! Life Is Beautiful--exactly! And You are Beautiful! When upon hearing of the attack on the news, I was terrified for you and I am sure, as evidenced by the many wonderful comments here, that many others felt as I did - trauma such as this can only be overcome by loving people surrounding you and assuring you that you are safe. Your family and friends, and the hospital staff made sure that you felt loved and protected and that is part of your beautiful recovery and continued miracle. God Bless You and first responder Sergei Ivanov and your wonderful friend Valentina Gorodetskaya.

Norma Iris Montalvo (b. 1955)
Norma Iris Montalvo, OK, USA
18/06/2015 13:13
8
0
I remember for the first time the news came, I was so sorry for Her.
To see Her recovering is so good. I wish all the best for Her, quick recovery.
The old Lady is a hero, without Her she is not alive today.
Both of them wonderful people.
Kathy, Sydney
17/06/2015 14:29
10
0
What a very fortunate lady. It appears that after unsuccessful attempts at fighting it off she played dead, which is what saved her life. I've always heard to play dead in a bear attack because it isn't necessarily attacking to eat you, likely it was startled or has cubs. However, with big cats it's the opposite, they ARE going to eat you if they attack and you should fight for your life. Of course there are always rogue bears, but the chances of running into one are slim. I am very happy for Natalya. She will probally have nightmares from this, I know I would. Hopefully she will not have any permanent injuries from this.
rose beninger, USA
17/06/2015 03:14
13
0
What a "Brave Lady" may you now have a very good recovery & life ahead.


PS. Bear-free, of course.
Jaker, Dundalk
17/06/2015 00:58
13
0
Glad to hear that Natalya is making a good recovery, I remember being shocked when I heard the original story about her being mauled and partly buried. From the image in the article, I see that the incident appears to have occurred just on the edge of the town. Is it usual for bears to come this close to inhabited areas ?
Simon Robinson, Crewe UK
16/06/2015 17:19
16
0
1

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