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35-year-old speaks out after grizzly bear attack: 'Insane how fast it all happens'

A veteran is speaking out after coming face-to-face with a grizzly bear protecting her cub and surviving to tell the tale.

Shayne Patrick Burke, a veteran who has survived deployments in Iraq and even a brain tumor, has been through a lot but earlier this month, he was on his honeymoon with his wife, Chloe Burke, at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming when he encountered a new kind of danger -- a grizzly bear weighing about 400 pounds and with four-inch sharp claws.

The Burkes sat down with ABC News' Matt Gutman to speak out exclusively about the harrowing encounter.

PHOTO: Shayne Patrick and Chloe Burke were on their honeymoon in Grand Teton National Park when Patrick was attacked by a mama grizzly bear. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Shayne Patrick and Chloe Burke were on their honeymoon in Grand Teton National Park when Patrick was attacked by a mama grizzly bear. (ABC News)

Shayne Patrick Burke recalled separating from Chloe Burke while hiking in order to track down a specific owl he wanted to locate but instead of finding the owl, he found himself right next to a grizzly bear.

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"It was close enough for me to identify that it was definitely a cub," the 35-year-old said, adding that he froze at that moment.

"I locked up and I just, the decision making in such a fearful moment, it's insane how fast it all happens. I don't know. I just went to pure instinct," he said.

PHOTO: Shayne Patrick recounts surviving a grizzly bear attack in an interview that aired on “Good Morning America,” May 30, 2024. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Shayne Patrick recounts surviving a grizzly bear attack in an interview that aired on “Good Morning America,” May 30, 2024. (ABC News)

Shayne Patrick Burke said he had carried bear spray with him but didn't have enough time to use it.

"I just was like, OK, I'm not going to just be able to spray this animal. That's when I ducked and covered," he said.

"She just bit down each leg and she picked me up and kind of thrashed me around," he continued. "She went towards my head. But I kept my hands interlocked like this and just like, protected my arteries and my neck. She bit down and got my left wrist and my right hand. I heard a pop and at that point in my head, I was like, alright, she's in my skull."

But instead of Shayne Patrick Burke's skull, the mama bear had bit into his bear spray can and after a taste of it, the bear ran off.

"Then the pepper kind of hit me, and I was like, you're still alive," he recounted.

35-year-old man survives grizzly bear attack after encountering 2 of them at national park

Shayne Patrick Burke was badly wounded in the attack but was able to scramble up a hill and managed to call his wife, who works as an EMT.

"I said, 'I got attacked by a grizzly bear. I'm not sure exactly the damage yet,'" he recalled. "So she goes right into EMT mode, telling me to improvise tourniquets."

After Chloe Burke took the phone call from her husband, she said she didn't know if she would ever hear from him again.

"I hung up the phone not knowing if I had spoken to my husband for the last time," she said.

Parents of woman seemingly killed in bear attack speak out

Park rangers eventually found Shayne Patrick Burke and he said he remembered what he told them after the attack.

"I was just like, 'Please don't kill the bear. She was just defending her cub,'" he said. "And they said, 'That's very admirable of you.'"

The park staff agreed they didn't need to euthanize the mama grizzly bear and at the end of the day, everyone escaped with their lives.

"The brain tumor surgery, [went] well. I was good after that. But, you know, the universe decided to test me again, I guess," Shayne Patrick Burke said of his recent near-death experience.

"No one ever starts their day thinking ‘I’m gonna get attacked by a bear today.’ But it happened to us. I’m really grateful that my husband was prepared and had these wonderful instincts to be able to preserve his life and make it back to us," Chloe Burke added.

Experts say Shayne Patrick Burke did everything right during the bear attack. If a grizzly bear charges or attacks you, experts recommend playing dead by lying flat on your stomach and protecting your head and neck and using bear spray, when possible.

35-year-old speaks out after grizzly bear attack: 'Insane how fast it all happens' originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com