Wyoming College Student Fights Grizzly Bear to Save Friend’s Life
Friendship. Brotherhood. A team. These are words, these are ideas, that many of us spend our whole lives hoping to find. Some of us are lucky to be a part of a team, to have a group of friends that we would stand up for, that we would fight for, that we would die for.
For Brady Lowry, it was friendship - it was brotherhood - that saved his life.
Northwest College students Brady Lowry, Kendall Cummings, Orrin Jackson and August Harrison are members of the Powell, Wyoming's college wrestling team. After an early morning wrestling practice, the four teammates decided to go antler hunting just outside of Cody, Wyoming on Saturday.
It was there that they came face to face with a grizzly bear.
“I saw bear crap all over, and I looked at Kenny and said, ‘There is a grizzly bear here,” Lowry told KSL TV. “And right after I said that, the bear came out of the willows. It was thick. It came at me and charged me and tackled me off this cliff into this gulley and was going at me for a little bit.”
As if almost conjuring the bear, it came out of the woods and immediately attacked.
It went after Lowry first, tackling him into a gully and breaking his arm.
Cummings - his friend, his teammate - didn't hesitate. He immediately began screaming at the bear, trying to get its attention and distract it so that his friend could get away. When that didn't work, Cummings moved towards the bear. He started kicking the bear and grabbing at its hair, trying to pull him from his teammate.
“I grabbed and yanked him hard by the ear,” Cummings told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.
When he did that, the bear shifted its focus and went after Cummings.
“It tackled me, chewed me up a bit, and then when it was done, it wandered off, and I started calling out for Brady to make sure he was alright,” Cummings told KSL TV.
After having just fought off a bear, Cummings should have been licking his wounds and finding the immediate path to safety. But he wasn't going to go without his friend. Without his teammate. Without his brother.
“I called out to Brady to make sure he was alright and I think the bear heard me,” Cummings said. “It kind of circled around and got me again.”
Most people wouldn't have been able to fight a bear once and survive. This young man did it twice.
“The bear circled back around, and it got me again, chewed on me, and that’s when it got my head and cheek. And then it went away again for whatever reason,” Cummings said.
Finally, the bear left, content with the damage that it had caused.
Cummings laid still for a few moments, trying to play dead (and probably feeling pretty close to it).
When he was certain the bear wouldn't come back for a third time, Cummings picked himself up, because that's what he was always told to do.
“We heard Kenny yell, and he came out of the trees where the bear was at and was covered in blood. He walked down to us,” Lowry remembered. “Gus ran up to him, and we were probably five miles from the trailhead where we parked and about a mile to the bottom of the hill.”
The four boys began the long journey back to the trailhead where they were parked.
A press release from the Wyoming Game & Fish Department detailed the aftermath of the attack.
"The individuals were able to call 911 from near the scene and Park County Search and Rescue was immediately activated," the press release stated. "Upon notification, Wyoming Game and Fish Department personnel responded to the scene as well. With the assistance of a hunter in the area, a local resident and other members of their party, the two men were able to reach the trailhead where they met search and rescue and were transported from the area."
KSL TV reported that Cummings was flown by helicopter to St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings Montana. Lowry was first taken to Cody Regional Hospital, but was then also transported to St. Vincent.
“I’m just glad we have each other still; glad all four of us walk off that mountain,” Lowry said. “I don’t think anyone else lesser than a wrestling team with a bond like we have – they wouldn’t have handled it as well as we did.”
Speaking of being a team, as soon as the rest of the Northwest College Wrestling Team heard the news about their brothers, they made the 90-minute drive to go be with them in their hospital room.
Additionally, a fundraising website was created to help both students with their medical costs.
"Upon arriving at St. Vincent’s Healthcare, Dallas Lowry, also a wrestling coach, was greeted by the sight of his son surrounded by his Northwest Trapper wrestling team, a memory he reflected on with his voice choking," Leo Wolfson with Cowboy State Daily wrote. "The team stayed with their ailing teammates past midnight."
Because that's what teammates do. That's what friends do. That's what brothers do.
And, make no mistake about it, this wrestling team, especially those four young men who fought a bear and survived - they're brothers.
“College athletics is where these boys turn into men and they adopt these brothers that they never leave, for the rest of their lives they’ll remember these things,” Dallas Lowry told CSD. “College athletics does a lot of things for kids for education, but it also does a lot of things for a young man’s memories and friendships."
What happened on that fateful Saturday; it could be a painful memory. No doubt, when Cummings touches his fingers to the numerous scars on his face, or when he looks in the mirror and sees the bruises, he'll remember that pain, that trauma. When Lowry finally gets the cast removed on his broken arm, he'll remember how much that bear hurt him. But maybe he'll remember something else. Maybe he'll remember that his friend, his teammate, his brother never left his side. Maybe he'll remember that Kendell Cummings risked his own life just for the chance to save Lowry's. Maybe he'll remember his other teammates walking with him back to the road, or the rest of his team coming to sit at his bedside.
Maybe, when he looks back on the trauma, the terror, and the pain of those moments, he'll remember that day not for what he lost, but for what he gained.
“Me and Kenny would both be dead if it wasn’t all four of us — if it wasn’t for Kenny pulling the hair, if it wasn’t for [Gus] running up and scaring the bear away and not coming back for more," Lowry said. "It was a team effort. We love each other. We’re going to be best friends for the rest of our lives because of this."