A Canadian couple who was mauled to death by a grizzly bear while camping in a national park sent a distressing message to family members in their last known text before their deaths.
Doug Inglis and Jenny Gusse, both 62, were killed along with their dog in the bear attack Friday inside Banff National Park after their bear spray failed to thwart the hungry beast, according to local reports.
The experienced hiking pair had shared a full itinerary of their seven-day hiking trip with Inglis’ uncle Colin Inglis and remained in contact with him through a satellite communication device, the family member told the Calgary Herald.
Late Friday afternoon, they let him know that they were delayed getting to their planned camping spot and instead bunkered down for the night near the Red Deer River in the Panther Valley.
But just a few hours later, Colin said he received a troubling SOS message and knew right away it was serious.
“I got a call from their Garmin [inReach device] that said, ‘Bear attack bad,’ ” he told the local outlet, adding Parks Canada officials were automatically notified by the couple’s message.
“The alarm bells were going off, ‘this is not good’ — that means there’d been some engagement. You’re completely helpless to know what’s going on.”
A helicopter was deployed to find and rescue the couple but had to turn back to overcast conditions. An on-the-ground response team was then sent out to reach Inglis and Gusse via ATVs around 10:30 p.m.
The trek took three hours and it was nearly 2 a.m. by the time they reached the couple’s campsite, according to the Herald. There they found the mauled bodies of both Inglis and Gusse along with their 7-year-old border collie, Colin said.
The couple — a research scientist and a lab technician at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Research Centre — appeared to have tried to fight off the bar with bear spray but the animal was relentless.
“One can of bear spray had been fully discharged but this bear was not to be deterred,” Colin said.
Park officials believe that the couple was inside their tent reading when they were attacked.
“Their tent was crushed and their e-readers were open, they were both discovered in their stocking feet,” the victim’s uncle said, recounting what authorities told him.
When the rescue team finally reached them, they encountered what was believed to be the same murderous beast responsible for Inglis’ and Gusse’s deaths.
The grizzly was still showing signs of aggression and the crew said they were forced to shoot it to save themselves.
“In their words, the bear was intent on killing them,” Colin told the Herald.
The bear was a 25-year-old female in “fair body condition” but was underweight for this time of year when the animals are preparing for hibernation.
Investigators will perform an autopsy on the shot grizzly to confirm if it was the same animal that killed Inglis and Gusse, who met at university and had been together ever since.
The attack was the first time a grizzly has killed humans inside Banff National Park in decades.
However, in 2021, two people were killed in separate attacks in the nearby Waiparous and Water Valley areas.