Bear Attacks 90-Year-Old Tennessee Woman, She Survives by Using Lawn Chair in Self-Defense

by Bryan Fyalkowski

Ninety-year-old Altha Williams of Sevierville, Tennessee, had no idea a bear would be joining her on her front porch on Thursday. When the bear attacked on her, Williams used a lawn chair in self-defense and escaped the ordeal with only a scratch.

The bear – who had three cubs – approached and attacked Williams on her porch. Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency spokesperson Matt Cameron commented that she did everything by the book.

“The way she responded was exactly what we tell people to do,” Cameron said to Knoxville’s WVLT 8 TV. “Get big, yell at them and make noise to intimidate them. Pat on the back for how she responded – it very well could have saved her life.”

Williams said the bear made a lunge at her, but she was able to fend it off with only that minor injury.

“I’ve been praising the Lord ever since then, because I may not be here,” she said.

I am picturing Williams fending off this bear like Russell Crowe fighting a tiger in the pits of Gladiator. What a brave woman who took an extremely scary situation into her own hands, and was able to escape with her life.

Bear Continues Attacks Through Neighborhood

After that, the bear left Williams’ porch and actually charged at a neighbor, who shot it in self-defense. Unfortunately, Cameron says the TWRA must euthanize the bear because it went out of its way to attack humans in a populated area.

“We don’t just euthanize bears based on personal feelings. Once a bear has made contact with a person and caused injury we have no choice but to euthanize it,” he said. “It can’t be relocated.”

Williams did make one mistake in this entire situation, however. She lives outside of Knoxville near Smoky Mountains National Park, and admitted that occasionally she would throw food scraps outside.

Still, that is no excuse for a bear to attack a person unprovoked. But it means that the bear was likely around Williams’ house looking for more food.

“It’s one of the worst things you can do for bears,” Cameron said. “When bears learn to associate humans with food, encounters can increase.”

So, here is your tip for the day: Do not feed bears! And if you do happen to come face-to-face with one, be sure to have a lawn chair handy. Or just call Altha Williams and she will help you out.