• Ke'Miyah Smith

Colorado man defies the odds, survives attacks by shark, bear, and rattlesnake


Dylan McWilliams survived being bitten by a shark, attacked by a bear, and bitten again by a rattlesnake, all within three years.

According to National Geographic, McWilliams, of Grand Junction, Col., was body boarding in the island of Kauai, Hawaii, when he suddenly felt something hit his leg: a shark had bitten him. "I saw the shark underneath me. I started kicking at it—I know I hit it at least once—and swam to shore as quickly as I could,” he explained to the BBC. His wound required seven stitches. The marks on his leg suggested they were the marks of a tiger shark; most sharks attacks in Hawaii are caused by tiger sharks. However, the probability of being attacked by a shark in U.S. waters is one in 11.5 million. By comparison, an American has about a 1 in 5,000 chance of being struck by lightning during his or her lifetime.

McWilliams, who has been backpacking across the U.S. and Canada for the past few years, also managed to defy the one in 2.1 million odds of being injured by a bear. While sleeping on his camping trip in Colorado in July, a black bear hit him on the head. He was able to escape by poking the bear in its eye. The park’s authorities captured the bear and found the blood of McWilliams under the bear’s claws; the animal was put down. McWilliams’s injuries required nine staples to the back of his head to close the wound. North American black bears that attack humans are generally hungry: “The attacks of bears are rare, usually because a bear has learned to associate humans with food by eating from bird feeders, trash cans, or pet dishes,” according to National Geographic. Between 1900-2009, 14 people were killed by bears in the lower 48 U.S. states.

McWilliams went hiking in Utah in 2015 and stumbled upon a rattlesnake, which bit him. He said there wasn’t much venom in the bite and decided not to go to the hospital, but he was sick for a couple of days. The odds of being bitten by a venomous snake in the U.S. are estimated at 1 in 37,500.

Even with all his bad luck with nature, McWilliams says he will still go hiking, catch rattlesnakes, and swim in the ocean.