Man Mauled by Brown Bear on Hiking Trip Survived After Girlfriend Screamed 'Punch it in the Face' During Attack

A man who was mauled by a brown bear while hiking in Romania survived after his girlfriend frantically urged him to punch the animal in the face.

Andi Bauer, 26 and Lara Booth, 23, were on a five-day expedition through the Carpathian mountains last month when the attack occurred, The Times of London reported. Bauer, who was walking 20 feet ahead of his partner, wandered close to a brown bear and two cubs.

According to the couple, the bear ran at the man. It proceeded to bite him on the right leg and swing him side-to-side, tearing flesh from his calf and breaking the leg in three places. Booth said she screamed to "punch it in the eye." As Bauer did, the bear reportedly fled the area.

"I had my side turned away from it [the bear], so when I saw it bounding towards me I just didn't have time to think about what to do," the male hiker, from Germany, said.

"It bit my leg, held on to it, and dragged me and threw me about. I was crying out for help, but there wasn't anything that anyone could do. The bear let go of me, and after Lara told me to punch it in the face, I hit it. It then went away. I suppose I'm lucky I got through it."

Brown bear
Brown bears fishing for salmon at Brooks Falls on September 16, 2018 in Katmai National Park, Alaska. Andi Bauer was reportedly mauled by a grizzly while hiking in Romania and survived after his girlfriend urged him to punch the animal in the face. Getty/Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery

Booth said the pair used socks to curb the bleeding and she searched for a cellphone signal to call for help. A rescue helicopter arrived and took them to a hospital in Târgu Mureș. Bauer, who has since been transferred to a facility in Germany, is still undergoing treatment, she added.

The pair's comments were sourced to the South West News Service, and carried by U.K. media outlets, including the Times of London, The Daily Mail, The Sun and the Daily Mirror.

"I was frozen with fear when we first saw the bears," Booth said, according to the news agency. "I was screaming at Andi the whole time. Keeping calm during an attack like that is hard.

"I did so as best I could. Then I remembered that you're supposed to punch a bear in the eye, so I yelled that and the bear turned around and left him. Andi's so lucky to be alive."

Booth said the pair had not been carrying bear spray during the trip and admitted to ignoring a warning from a local resident, who advised against the mountain trek. "I'd read up about bears and panthers, but Bauer had persuaded me not to bring a bear spray because he thought it'd be more likely that it would explode," she said, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.

The US National Park Service (NPS) says brown bear attacks are rare but the species can be extremely dangerous if approached. Fighting back is often a last resort, it warns.

It explains on its website: "If you are attacked by a brown/grizzly bear, leave your pack on and PLAY DEAD.

"Lay flat on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your neck," the NPS FAQ continues. "Spread your legs to make it harder for the bear to turn you over. Remain still until the bear leaves the area. Fighting back usually increases the intensity of such attacks. However, if the attack persists, fight back vigorously. Use whatever you have at hand to hit the bear in the face."

Brown Bear
Brown bears fishing for salmon on the Moraine River on August 20, 2017 in Katmai National Park, Alaska. The man who was mauled by a brown bear last month said he found himself between the animal and her two cubs. Getty/Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery