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Home surveillance videos from John Swartz’s house in rural Pennsylvania show the harrowing run-in he had with a black bear in his own garage on July 27. Swartz walked away from the encounter, but not before the 250-pound bear bit him on the top of his head.


Swartz, 60, was watching TV with his wife Lori that Thursday evening when he went outside to shut off a water hose. Camera footage shows him walking across the front porch and stepping into the garage, where the shutoff valve for the hose is located.

As he stepped into the dark garage, he scared a black bear that had walked in there hours earlier. (Previous footage captured by the same camera shows the bear entering the garage.) The startled bear tried to leave but had to get past Swartz to reach the door. The bear collided with Swartz and pushed him into some shelves. He couldn’t see the animal but heard it growling as he backpedaled out of the garage.

In the video, Swartz can be seen falling backwards from the dark garage. The flash of a running black bear is visible as Swartz trips over the bear, tumbles to the ground, and then dashes across the porch into his home.

“It was something huge. It hurt, and it was loud, like a growl. I got hit against the shelves and I remember holding my head,” Swartz told ABC-16 News. “After we retrieved the video, I find out that me and the bear met again. I fell over the bear.”

Lori heard the commotion from inside. When she went to the door and opened it, she saw John holding his head with blood running down his face.

“I freaked out,” Lori said. “I thought he was scalped.”

She called 911 and tried to stop the bleeding on John’s head. At one point, she looked out the window and spotted the bear in their yard as it calmly walked away. (This can also be seen near the end of the roughly minute-long video.)

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Swartz was then taken to a local hospital. Doctors confirmed that he’d been bitten by a bear, although his wounds were surprisingly minor.

Doctors also lifted some of the bear’s DNA off Swartz’s body, which they shared with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Officials plan to use the DNA to identify the bear if it’s trapped, and they set a trap filled with doughnuts in the Swartz’ yard later that night. The bear had not been caught as of Aug. 1.

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