Re-Elect John Chelminiak, Bellevue City Council, Position 3

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The Spirit of Survival

On September 17th 2010, John’s life changed dramatically. As he was taking his dogs for a walk near the family cabin at Lake Wenatchee, John was mauled by a black bear. The attack went on for several minutes. Alerted by the dogs, John’s wife Lynn discovered him in the driveway bleeding to death. She looked up to see the bear pacing along the road about 100 feet away.

While seeking help on 9-1-1, Lynn held the bear away making noise and waving her arms. John was taken by medics to Wenatchee’s Central Washington Hospital where he was stabilized and then airlifted to Harborview’s Regional Trauma Center. He spent almost 18-hours in the emergency OR, the first of eight surgeries over the next several weeks.


His story of the “horrific fight” with the bear, his survival, and positive attitude in recovery has been described by many as inspiring. The story was carried around the world and John has been featured on the NBC Today Show and CBS Early Morning. Lynn, and their daughter Megan, 11, were honored in March as American Red Cross heroes for keeping the bear from attacking again and standing by John. He will appear on the Biography Channel’s series “I Survived.”

John lost his left eye in the attack. His left arm required extensive skin grafts. His neck was torn to the spine and his scalp and face were badly ripped by the bear’s teeth and claws. But his spirit never wavered. One month after the attack, John was back on the city council taking part in the budget deliberations by phone. And on November 2nd, he returned to the council dais, crediting his recovery on the thoughts and prayers of thousands of people.

John Chelminiak - Red Cross award ceremony
John and family at the Red Cross Awards where Lynn and Megan were honored as Red Cross Heroes.
(Watch video from the Red Cross.)

Initial report on CBS News
Initial Report on CBS Morning News

John Chelminiak - Harborview news conference
News Conference at Harborview