Roanoke native still recovering after vicious black bear attack in Arizona

Dawn Martin was severely injured after the bear attacked her while she slept

ROANOKE – A Roanoke native now living in Tucson, Arizona, is recovering after a horrific bear attack.
It happened while Dawn Martin and her husband were camping. The couple dozed off in their chairs around a camp fire, and that's when the attack happened.

"Just as fast as he could he was coming at me. He came up behind my chair and slammed me down, and pinned me down the ground. I felt his head rip my scalp. His claws were in my arms,” Martin explained.

It was a more than 300 pound black bear that stood more than 6 feet tall.


"By the time my brother-in-law got up, he was on my sister,” explained Dawns sister Deborah who lives in Franklin County.

Dawn's husband tried fighting the bear off her, and finally was able to scare it away with gunfire. Helpless, he witnessed the entire attack. After scaring the bear away he rushed Dawn to a nearby Ranger station. She was then airlifted to a hospital that was about an hour flight away.

Three days in the Intensive Care Unit, and two surgeries later, the damage is still severe. Dawn, a trauma nurse knows her career may be over.

"I have severe nerve damage to my left arm. I have no use of my left arm which is my dominant arm. He ripped the tendon of my right arm, so I have pretty significant claw marks. I have claw marks down my side. I have a laceration under my breast. I have a laceration behind my ear. He almost completely took the back of my scalp off,” Martin explained.

Deborah said she received a phone call from her mother telling her the news that he sister had been mauled by a bear. It was a phone call she says she never expected.

“Of course not. Nobody does. When I tell people what happened, they think it was scratches. But no, it about ripped her skull off of her head,” Bell said.

Just days after the attack, pictures of Dawn’s injuries started trending on Facebook, seen by millions across the nation.

"It's surreal. You don't expect things like that to happen to your family,” Bell said.

Not to mention possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of unexpected medical expenses for the small business owners who are uninsured. Bell explained that her sister and brother-in-law had let their health insurance lapse, meaning that they have no health insurance to cover those costs.

Deborah says the situation is ironic considering that her sister Dawn has spent her entire life as a nurse, helping others.

"Being that my sister spent her life helping people, she is a very proud woman. It took a lot for her to even set up a Go-Fund-Me-page. It could be you. You just don't know,” Bell said.

Now, Deborah is asking for help from the community. She is holding a fundraiser by selling pound cakes. She is also asking that the community donate anything they can to the online fundraiser.

About the Author: