By Leo Wolfson, State Political Reporter
Two athletes from the Northwest College wrestling team in Powell are recovering from serious injuries suffered in a grizzly bear attack Saturday outside Cody.
Brian Erickson, athletic director at Northwest College, confirmed the attack.
“We’re praying for those kids and their families and the rest of the team and their coach,” he said.
Erickson said Kendell Cummings and Brady Lowry were the two grapplers injured in the attack. Cummings is from Evanston, while Lowry is from Cedar City, Utah.
He said the injuries suffered were very serious in nature, but both are expected to live. Each wrestler has already received multiple surgeries.
“They’re alive and doing well, for what happened,” Erickson said.
Cummings, a sophomore, was immediately life-flighted to St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, Montana, while Lowry, also a sophomore, was taken to Cody Regional Health by ambulance. Erickson said after a few hours at Cody Regional, Lowry was also life-flighted to Billings.
Attack Happened During Hike
Erickson said the incident happened while Cummings, Lowry and two other members of the wrestling team were horn hunting in the South Fork outside Cody. He said the foursome had traveled from the school in Powell after a practice.
As the four were hiking down the mountain, Erickson said the group became separated. Without warning, a grizzly jumped out and started attacking Cummings and Lowry.
Erickson said the bear went after Lowry first. That’s when Cummings rushed in and tried to pull the bear off of him. At that point, the bear started attacking Cummings.
Erickson said the attack likely happened in the late afternoon or early evening Saturday, and he received a call about it around 7:30 p.m.
Multiple people reported on social media seeing Park County Search and Rescue and other emergency staff responding to the incident.
Erickson said all four of the college athletes had bear spray with them, but the bear attacked before the pair could deploy their bear spray.
Northwest College President Lisa Watson said in a press release that after the attack, the hurt wrestlers were able to return to their vehicle with the help of their teammates and then sought medical attention.
“I am so grateful for those who assisted these brave young men in the aftermath of this terrifying ordeal and that no lives were lost,” Watson said. “It took quick thinking and no small amount of bravery for this to have ended without tragedy.”
Autumn is a dangerous time to be in the backcountry as grizzlies are particularly active eating food before they hibernate for the winter season.
Erickson said the junior college will release more information in the coming day about the incident and how people can assist the athletes.
Last year, the Northwest wrestling team lost a member when wrestler Traycee Norman, 19, died while on holiday break in Utah.
The team will have its first competition in early November.