CORNWALL, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A homeowner in Orange County had a violent encounter with bear in his garage on Sunday.
William Orange, an NYPD detective, was working in his Cornwall garage around 9 p.m. when he stepped outside and the left the door open.
“I was walking back into the house, to grab something to eat,” Orange told CBS2’s John Dias.
The off-duty detective says when he walked back into a detached garage, after hearing a strange noise, a small black bear was waiting for him.
“I didn’t see it. The lights were off, so I was finding my way to get to the light switch,” Orange explained. “I heard a growl, saw big teeth and eyes and I felt it rip my shirt. I took a swing at it and ran out of there.”
The startled bear had struck the officer in the chest; leaving Orange with deep scratches across his ribs. He was treated at the scene by a local volunteer ambulance company and then transported to St. Luke’s Hospital.
The father of three said he’s just happy the bear ran into him and not his family.
“If this were to happen, I am glad it happened to me and not my wife or my children.”
Police say the animal was attracted to the open garage by Orange’s garbage, which the Cornwall resident says he keeps in there so it’s away from the house and his family.
Cornwall’s Chief of Police, Todd Hazard, says bear sightings in the area are common, but attacks are rare. Hazard says there are things people can do to scare off large animals.
“Actually screaming at the bear, yelling at the bear is effective, clinking rocks, hikers bring whistles,” Hazard explained.
Luckily, Orange did not need any stitches and only required a tetanus shot.