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Woman says she played dead in JBER bear mauling

By Lauren Maxwell 2:34 PM May 29, 2014

It’s hard for Jessica Gamboa to believe she survived the gruesome attack.

It’s 11 days later and she is still healing from deep cuts and broken bones.

It was bad ending to what started as a pleasant day. Gamboa had gone for a run with her husband at Joint Base Elemdorf-Ricahrdson when the couple became separated. Not long after that, she spotted a cub on the side of the trail.

“Immediately my thoughts were, ‘OK, where’s the mama bear?’ Cause if the cub is around, mama bear is not very far,” she said. “And as soon as I did that, I looked back to my left and the mama bear was already coming toward me.”

The bear attacked her three times while Gamboa played dead — advice she grew up hearing that likely saved her life.

“I played dead as best I could. I didn’t really make a noise or scream or fight back for that matter, I just completely surrendered,” Gamboa said.

Thoughts of her 4-year-old son gave Gamboa the strength to keep going, she says. She walked nearly two miles to the Davis Highway where Sgt. Collin Gillikin, a U.S. Army medic, happened to be driving by.

“I was in pure amazement that this woman was still talking and able to comprehend what I was saying,” Gillikin said. “She was holding her neck and I saw a massive amount of blood on her chest and I told her not to move her hands. I figured if she had she might have bled out inside the vehicle on the way to the hospital.”

Gamboa is healing in her hospital bed and visited with the man who saved her. She says the ordeal has taught her a lesson.

“Never underestimate the power of nature,” she said.

–Video courtesy the U.S. Army

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