The King County Sheriff’s Office said it’s investigating after a Baring man reportedly tripped and was accidentally shot by his own rifle earlier this month while chasing a black bear off his uncle’s property.
Richard Hibbs spoke with KIRO 7 from his hospital bed at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he’s been for the last several weeks, and said he was chased by the bear, not the other way around – and that the encounter almost took his life.
"I know I could've died,” said Hibbs.
Hibbs said he first saw a bear in the morning that day on the rural property where he lives alone near NE Index Creek Road and 637th Ave NE.
“Eight-hundred to 1,000-pound black bear just walking through the driveway,” said Hibbs.
He said he was bringing firewood inside later that day when he encountered the bear.
“I hear this twig break,” said Hibbs. "I turn and I saw the bear.”
Hibbs said he “bolted.”
"The weapon I was carrying fell to the ground and it went off,” said Hibbs, a veteran, who showed KIRO 7 pictures of the aftermath. "The worst pain imaginable."
King County deputies said Hibbs was taken to the hospital in critical condition. He said he’s had several surgeries on his leg and is currently not able to walk on his own.
"It came in through the back of my leg, through the top of my leg and straight up,” said Hibbs. "Lead shrapnel in my forehead."
Hibbs disputes what King County deputies said happened.
"I didn’t chase the bear, it chased me,” said Hibbs. “Who in their right mind chases a black bear.”
Hibbs said he’s seen five bears this Spring on his uncle’s property in Baring.
"This is the most active bear season I've seen in my life,” said Hibbs, who told us he does not want to go back to the home. "I see the bear's face when I go to bed."
Recovery will take months, if not longer, according to Hibbs, who said he’s optimistic.
"I'm going to walk again,” said Hibbs. “Even if they said no, I would do everything I can to prove that point."
KIRO 7 reported on spring black bear sightings by people around Puget Sound as the animals came out of hibernation in search of food. Officials say bear attacks are rare.
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