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Evanston man accidentally shoots himself during grizzly bear attack

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A medical helicopter lifts off with a victim of a grizzly bear attackon  Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in Sublette County Wyoming.

A medical helicopter lifts off with a victim of a grizzly bear attackon Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in Sublette County Wyoming.

Travis Bingham, Sublette County Sheriff’s Office

A Wyoming man was flown to the University of Utah Hospital over the weekend after accidentally shooting himself in the leg in an attempt to fend off an attack.

Lee Francis, of Evanston, was hunting with his son along the Sawtooth Mountains in western Wyoming on Friday when they were charged by a grizzly bear, according to the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office.

Francis was able to draw his handgun and fire several rounds at the bear, which stopped the attack and caused it to flee. But in the process, Francis shot himself in the lower leg, police said.

Francis’ son then activated an SOS device at about 5:52 p.m., alerting Sublette County authorities and the volunteers with nearby Tip Top Search and Rescue, before trying to stop the bleeding on his father’s injury.

With daylight fading, Francis was able to mount a horse with help from his son who coordinated with a search and rescue crew to meet near Water Dog Lake, roughly 30 miles southeast of Jackson, Wyoming.

At about 9:20 p.m., search and rescue volunteers met Francis and his son on utility task vehicles, or UTVs, where they transported them to a nearby ranch.

Francis was flown by helicopter to the University of Utah Hospital, police say, while search and rescue members accompanied his son and the horses back to the trailhead.

Wardens with Wyoming Game and Fish are currently investigating the attack and trying to locate the bear.

Francis and his son were the second party to be attacked by a grizzly bear in western Wyoming this month. On Oct. 15, two Northwest College wrestlers were attacked outside of Cody, Wyoming.

Brady Lowry, of Cedar City, was attacked while hunting for shed antlers with friends. The bear broke his arm before turning on Kendell Cummings, who was throwing objects at it and even grabbed its coat in an attempt to pull it off of Lowry.

Both men survived, though their coach says they experienced significant puncture wounds, cuts and bruises. Cummings has dozens of staples on wounds on his face and head.