Even when you do your best to be careful and prepared, horrible things can sneak up on you, sometimes literally — like the day a bear attacked Brady Lowry, a college student in Wyoming.
Fortunately, his friend Kendell Cummings was there. In enormous danger, and at the risk of his own life, Cummings jumped the grizzly bear to save his friend.
It’s an inspiring (and, honestly, pretty terrifying) story of courage, sacrifice, and the power of brotherhood and friendship. Here’s how it all went down.
Lowry and Cummings got to know each other as wrestling teammates at Northwest College. Along with teammates Orrin Jackson and August Harrison, they made plans to go “horn hunting,” that is, searching for castoff antlers that deer shed each spring. It’s a popular local hobby and an enjoyable way to get outdoor exercise while enjoying “the thrill of the hunt” in a low-key way, and without any real hunting.
The horn hunting excursion was no rash decision. The young men were all experienced outdoorsmen, and they brought bear spray and firearms when they set off after Saturday morning wrestling practice.
At first the four boys walked together, but at some point, Lowry and Cummings got a little separated from the other two by about half a mile. That was when a terrifying nightmare became reality as a bear sneaked up on Lowry and attacked him before he could deploy his bear spray.
Cummings desperately began to do anything he could think of to save Lowry. First he yelled and threw things at the bear. When that didn’t work, he actually jumped on the bear, grabbed its ear, and tried to pull it off his friend.
His efforts worked all too well. The bear turned the brutal force of its attack from Lowry to Cummings. Cowboy State Daily reports:
Kendell Cummings could feel the grizzly bear’s jaws tearing through flesh down to his skull, but the adrenaline coursing through his body made it a painless sensation. “I could hear when his teeth would hit my skull, I could feel when he’d bite down on my bones and they’d kind of crunch.” …
Cummings said he fought back against the bear at first, but it quickly became apparent it would be a fruitless endeavor. The bear eventually stopped its attack, and Cummings lay still for a few minutes after, hoping to avoid a third encounter.
Finally the bear left, and the two gravely injured young men had to make their way 5 long miles down the mountain. Cummings, in particular, was losing blood fast and barely able to stand.
Lowry yelled for help from their teammates Harrison and Jackson and managed to call 911. The dispatcher told them to get to safety and leave Cummings behind while the authorities went to help him.
Once again, friendship and brotherhood saved the day. They told The Sheridan Press that they refused to even consider leaving him.
Harrison and Jackson carried Cummings on their backs down the mountain, helping to save his life.
“That’s what the wrestling team does – we go to hell and back with each other,” Lowry told Cowboy State Daily. “We aren’t going to let one of us go down without helping… We’re brothers. We’d do anything for each other.”
Emergency responders met them as they neared the trailhead and a life flight helicopter took Cummings to the hospital, where Lowry later joined him by ambulance. While they were in the hospital, their wrestling team and coach drove to the hospital to be there for them.
As horrifying as the incident was, there is something so inspiring about these young men. It takes rare and praiseworthy courage to run into danger for the sake of a friend.
Their bonds of brotherhood and self-sacrificing friendship are heroic indeed, and their story is one that will be remembered.
As Lowry said, “We’ll be best friends for the rest of our lives.”