A British tourist has shared the harrowing tale of how she was left partially paralyzed after being maimed by an angry bison.
“It’s a surreal enough experience,” Amelia Dean, 19, told ABC-affiliate KOTA from her hospital bed at Monument Health in Rapid City, South Dakota, where she has remained since the freak attack occurred seven weeks ago at Custer State Park.
Dean had reportedly been traveling around Europe when a friend asked her to join on a road trip around the US.
She had been stateside for only two days when the pair took a pal’s dog for a walk through the park.
The refuge is reportedly home to some 1,400 bison — one of the largest publicly owned herds in the world.
Disaster struck midway through the jaunt when one of the bulls — which can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and stand at 6-feet tall — reared his humongous horned head. “They came over a hill and saw down in the dip, quite a way ahead of them, they saw a big, male bison,” recalled the victim’s father, Matthew Dean.
Despite the frightening obstacle, Amelia and her companion decided against turning back as they had run out of supplies with two hours left in the trek.
“I was really dehydrated, it was really sunny and we’d both given our water to the dog like an hour ago,” explained Amelia, who attempted to walk around the bison at a safe distance.
Unfortunately, her effort to give the beasts a wide berth wasn’t enough. When they were 100 yards away, the bull bison “looked up” and “ran down the hill at her,” the teen’s mother, Jacqueline Dean, said in her description of the “terrifying” attack.
“It came right up and stopped in front of her and then apparently, they had a bit of eye contact for a few seconds,” mom said. Added Amelia, “I could have put my hand out on his forehead.”
That’s when the beast attacked, and butted the hapless traveler about “10 to 20 feet” in the air, according to Matthew.
Amelia painted a nail-biting scene. “I remember feeling the pressure on my hip,” she recounted. “My hip being pushed back and I remember the sensation of flying in the air and going head over heels.”
What happened next was not for the faint of heart. “It went through her thigh with the horn,” Jacquelin described. “Came out the other end.”
Unfortunately, the bison wasn’t done and reportedly stuck around with its hooves right over her prone head, threatening to trample at any moment.
Amelia insisted they “weren’t doing anything that really warranted” the disturbing attack, only “having a walk in the park.”
Salvation finally came after her friend led the enraged beast away and called emergency services.
Needless to say, Amelia is lucky to be alive considering the life-threatening injuries she sustained, including a severed femoral artery.
“We’re told that people usually, you know, bleed out between two and eight minutes and die, but she didn’t,” Jacqueline said.
Amelia added, “So it’s a miracle I even lived until the ambulance got there, you know, let alone when I got here and kept my life and my leg.”
Nonetheless, the poor gal didn’t come away unscathed: Upon arrival at the hospital Amelia learned that two of her leg nerves were damaged in the attack, leaving her paralyzed from the knee down — a devastating life sentence for someone who loved dancing as she did.
“I have basically no movement in my foot,” she lamented. “I can’t walk without a walker or crutches.” It only takes “about 20 meters” of movement before she’s too exhausted to go further.
To add insult to injury, Amelia was slated to be transferred to the Mayo Clinic to undergo treatment with a nerve damage specialist, but the offer rescinded over insurance issues.
“The case worker came in and said ‘I’ve got some really bad news for you’,” said the crestfallen mom. “They’ve withdrawn the offer, and they’re not going to send you to the Mayo. They said it’s not their responsibility.
She added, “It was so sad for her because she was absolutely devastated.”
Despite the Sisyphean setbacks, Amelia’s family says they won’t give up hope.
“I believe God’s got a plan and purpose for her because it wasn’t her time to die,” said Jacqueline, who also thanked all the doctors and samaritans who helped them during the trying saga.
“We cannot praise [enough] the professional care that she’s had there, can we?” she gushed. The parent added that she was astounded at the “care and compassion of the people of South Dakota,” adding that the “city should be so proud of itself.”
Amelia, for one, hopes that her nightmarish ordeal “doesn’t discourage people from traveling.”
“Travel and explore and have fun,” she urged. “This is a freak accident this isn’t going to happen every time somebody walks in a park. Hopefully.”
This isn’t the first time someone has been buffeted by a buffalo this summer. In June, a 34-year-old Colorado man was gored by a charging bison at the recently-reopened Yellowstone National Park, after heroically rescuing a child that was in the animal’s path.
A month prior, a 25-year-old Yellowstone visitor from Ohio was left with puncture wounds and other injuries after a bison tossed her 10 feet into the air.
Park officials advise visitors to stay at least 75 feet away from the bearded bruisers, which are unpredictable and can run three times as fast as a person.