Hubert Esquirol says he was talking on a satellite phone with his daughter, Stephanie Blais, when the 44-year-old was attacked by a black bear at the family cabin on McKie Lake, north of Buffalo Narrows, Sask.
She had called last Thursday at about 5:41 p.m. CST with an update on a malfunctioning water pump and had just sent her nine-year-old son, Elie, into the cabin for an antenna.
Those were the last words he heard his daughter speak. He soon heard distorted gurgling sounds.
‘I stayed on the line for a few minutes before I hung up and tried calling again,’ he said. ‘The sounds were very disturbing. An attack crossed my mind but attacks are one in a million.’
Blais’ husband, Curtis, called the worried father back less than 10 minutes later.
‘He called me and told me that Stephanie had been attacked by a bear. The bear wouldn’t let go so he shot the bear until it let go,’ Esquirol said.
‘He then proceeded to give her CPR but she had no pulse.’
Eli, Blais’ nine-year-old son, saw the horrific scene from inside the cabin.
Esquirol was surprised by the attack as bears have always been around the property but have never presented a problem before.
‘We never leave any food around, we have never given them a reason to stay. There has never been any provoked bears or any that seemed angry. They would always run off,’ he said.
Esquirol had just been at the cabin a week before his daughter had her trip.
A conservation officer told the father that the bear was unprovoked in its attack.
‘Stephanie would have been in the bears’ sight. She had her back turned. She didn’t see it,’ Esquirol said.
The bear’s stomach was found full of berries leading the officer to believe that the bear was not hungry.
‘Curtis handled the situation extremely well,’ Esquirol said. ‘It could have been so much worse. The children could have been near her at the time of the attack.’