Woman Mauled by Bear Drives to Hospital: Thea Thomas Survives 7 Vicious Bites to Back and Legs

(Photo: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri)A male Himalayan black bear rests inside its open enclosure at the Padamaja Naidu Himalayan zoological park in Darjeeling, about 80 km (50 miles) from the northeastern Indian city of Siliguri October 17, 2006.

A woman mauled by a bear drove to the hospital herself Tuesday despite her injuries, according to reports. Thea Thomas, 57, endured seven vicious bites to her back and inner thigh, and even though she may need plastic surgery, she survived to tell the tale.

The woman who was mauled by a bear and drove to the hospital had been hiking on the Heney Ridge Trail in Cordova, Alaska, with her dogs when the incident occurred. During the afternoon hike, the dogs, Kiska and her friend's Akita, ran off for a bit.

"I started to hear this growling," she told The Alaska Dispatch News. "Immediately I thought, 'That's not a plane – that's something else.'"

When the dogs ran back to Thomas, they had an angry 7-foot-tall bear on their heels. The dogs ran past her but the bear barreled directly into her and started attacking her.

"He was so pissed off, he was growling, angry, shaking his head," the hiker said. "He just started biting me. I'm yelling 'No! No!'"

Thomas kept thinking the bear would stop, but it kept biting her back, legs and right arm. It even dragged her backwards almost like it "wanted revenge," she said.

Eventually the bear left her alone, and Thomas began to walk back to her car over a mile away. The dogs found her on the trail and she drove herself to get help while bleeding and wounded, then she was airlifted to a hospital in Anchorage.

"The trooper told me that when she checked herself into the hospital, he said it was almost like the people who were working on her were more shocked than she was," Officer Peters told ABC News. "The trooper said she was very pragmatic and calm about everything."

Experts believe that the bear was defending a food source— Thomas had been by a stream with salmon. Heney Ridge Trail was closed as a result of the attack.

Despite the gruesome attack, Thomas "feels fine," she said. "I will never go into the woods without bear spray, or a horn, or a gun, again."