It appears the two campers who died in a grizzly bear attack in Canada’s Banff National Park made a last-ditch attempt to get help.
Doug Inglis and his longtime partner Jenny Gusse, both 62, are “very, very experienced” backcountry campers, said Doug Inglis’ uncle Colin CBC News Tuesday. The couple had kept him updated via text throughout their five-day trip.
Colin Inglis told the Canadian outlet that the couple was able to do this thanks to a Garmin inReach, a two-way satellite communicator with GPS that allows users to text and send SOS messages in remote areas.
Colin Inglis said that on the day his nephew and Guss died, he received news that the two had not yet reached their final destination for the day but were safe and setting up camp.
“They were probably preparing dinner and letting us know everything was OK,” he said.
But later that night, Colin Inglis said he received a worrying SOS from inReach.
“The message said, ‘Bear attack bad,'” Inglis said.
Colin Inglis also spoke about how it felt to receive such news.
“That night was obviously the start of an ongoing grieving process. When you receive this notification, you know something bad is happening. They don’t have a lot of information,” he said.
Park officials also received an alert from inReach about a bear attack near the park’s Red Deer River Valley around 8 p.m. Friday. When help arrived from the ground at 1 a.m. Saturday morning, Doug Inglis, Gusse and the couple’s dog were found dead, and a bear was spotted nearby.
“The response team arrived on scene at 1 a.m. and discovered two deceased individuals,” Banff National Park said in a statement opinion on his Facebook page. “In the area, the response team encountered a grizzly bear exhibiting aggressive behavior, prompting Parks Canada staff to euthanize the bear on-site to ensure public safety.”
Colin Inglis told CBC he believes the couple – who lived in Lethbridge, Alberta and had been together since their college days – were unfortunately “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“They are a couple who love each other and love the outdoors,” he said of the couple, who would go camping at least twice a year. “And they were very, very experienced at being outside, whether it was serious hiking or canoeing, whitewater canoeing in the north of the country.”
Colin Inglis said the couple were probably in their tent with their dog at the time of the attack as they had a habit of going into their tent to read after dark.
But the park team found all three bodies outside, their tent crushed and e-readers inside. Colin Inglis also said the rescue team also found an empty bear spray can and signs that they had tried to scare the bear away.
“There was a fight, and the fight didn’t stay in one place,” he said.