Abby Wetherell, 12, Attacked By Bear, Plays Dead, Lives to Tell About It

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Abby Wetherell, 12, struggled desperately to escape a black bear that was mauling her on a dirt trail in Northern Michigan - and lived to tell about it.

Abby W

"I was just thinking, 'This is it, I'm not going to live, I'm going to die here,'" she told the Associated Press in an interview Monday from her home.

Abby, who is still recovering from deep cuts to her left thigh and back, said, "I was really worried about my family, to think they would find me like that."

The seventh-grader was attacked as she jogged at dusk Thursday near her grandfather's cabin in a wooded area outside Cadillac, 200 miles from Detroit.

Wildlife experts don't know what caused a bear to attack Abby, but it happened as she embarked on the trek home from her grandpa's house to hers.

"It was running toward me," Abby said. "I ran as fast as I could, but it got me and took me down. It clawed me pretty bad, then it kind of went off."

"So I got up and started running again, and it came back and got me again."

Knocked down a second time, she reached up to pet it, hoping to calm it down.

"I was ... thinking maybe if I pet it, it would like me. But that didn't work."

Abby recalled hearing that playing dead might stop a bear attack.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials say fighting back is a often a better tactic, but in this case Wetherell's strategy may have paid off.

"It kept looking back at me, but then it just ran off," she said.

A neighbor heard Abby's screams, notified her parents and got her to a safe spot. She was flown to Traverse City, where she received 100 stitches.

Abby was released from the hospital Sunday, and was welcomed home to her town by crowd of cheering well-wishers carrying signs and balloons.

"I'm here and I'm happy," she said, on crutches and in pain, but in good spirits. "Yes, I'll go back to the cabin ... but I won't go back there by myself."

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