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Bear mauling victim speaks at site of attack

Missing an ear, covered in scratches and one arm in a sling, South Kitsap resident Anthony Blasioli returned to Banner Forest Heritage Park Monday for the first time since a bear attacked him more than two weeks ago.

“I have zero pain right now, but a lot of anxiety,” said Blasioli, 51, explaining that standing near the forest again brought back frightening images of the Sept. 2 attack. “I guess it is similar to how people feel after being raped; the bear had such control over me.”

Describing that day to the dozen or so reporters gathered, Blasioli said he was mountain biking in the park as he did every weekend with his two dogs, Oak and Pine, when they encountered the bear.

“The bear just showed up, and I lost track of the dogs,” he said. “I got off the bike, and the bear came toward me — it was a very sudden thing. I fell into the brush and he came on top of me and ... started eating me.”

Blasioli said the bear — which he said was male “because I saw the genitalia” — bit right through his bike helmet, ripping off his right ear, and took large bites off his shoulder, arm and side before he suddenly stopped.

“That was right when I told God that ‘I don’t want to die today,’” he said, explaining that he could only attribute that brief respite which allowed him to get back on his bike and escape to “divine intervention.”

Along with thanking God, Blasioli said he was extremely grateful to the two park users who first discovered him and called 911, the personnel from South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, and the staff at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Tacoma, where he spent about a week recovering.

“I am healing really well,” he said, explaining that while most of his right ear is gone, he can still hear with it. “I never lost movement in my hand, but the bicep and tricep muscles were pretty well mangled, and we’ll just have to see if I can use my (left) arm again.”

When asked what he learned from the event, Blasioli choked up as he said he learned “I have a lot of great friends,” including one who finally retrieved his four-year-old dog Oak, who was missing for two days.

He confirmed that his dogs were off-leash while he rode that day, but said he did not believe that contributed to the animal attacking him.

“Because it was so sudden, I did not hear barking or anything,” he said, saying he was not sure how the dogs would feel if they returned to the park with him, and that he had no plans to bike alone anymore. “I will bring other people with me.”

Blasioli, a Massachusetts native who moved to South Kitsap four years ago, was joined Monday morning by his parents, Janet and Anthony Blasioli, Sr, who flew from the East Coast to be at the hospital with their son the following day.

“I always thought if he had an accident, it would be on his motorcycle,” said Janet, after her son explained that he commutes to his job at Boeing on his Harley-Davidson. “I never imagined it would be a bear.”

Blasioli said he wanted to give a statement to the media because “there has been so many calls to the hospital and my home, and I knew there was a lot of people wanting to know how I was doing.”

When asked if he agreed with the decision of state Fish and Wildlife officials who first reported that they would euthanize the bear if caught, Blasioli said he would defer to the “experts.

“It’s their job to decide what to do with the bear,” he said, adding that he had “no ill feelings toward the bear.”

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