Hero Boy Scouts, 12 and 13, Reveal How Their Wilderness Skills and Quick Thinking Helped Save Their Scoutmaster from a Bear Attack
In an interview with ABC News, Frankie, 13, and his 12-year-old brother, Vincent Lepore spoke of the December day they watched a bear drag their scoutmaster, Christopher Petronino, into a cave during a hiking trip in New Jersey.
“I thought this was a serious situation. Like, he might not make it [out] alive if we don’t do something, if we don’t act fast,” Frankie said.
The brothers were hiking Splitrock Reservoir in Morris County with Petronino, 50, and another boy scout on Dec. 20 when a black bear grabbed Petronino’s foot and dragged him inside the cave, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said.
[IMAGE “1” “” “std” ]”At first I thought [Petronino] was joking, but then I heard the bear and I heard him [say] ‘call 911,’ so I called 911,” Frankie said.
“The main thing to do was just to stay calm,” he added. They also lit a signal fire to help lead rescuers to their location.
Their fire, along with Petronino’s barking dog, scared the bear off, ABC News reports. Authorities also instructed the scouts to lure the bear out by placing food near the cave’s entrance.
“It was very scary,” Vincent told ABC. Frankie is heard in the 911 call saying, “If we don’t make it out alive. I love you guys.”
Petronino was bitten on the leg and both shoulders before he hit the bear in the head with a rock hammer, DEP spokesman Bob Considine said.
Authorities said the 50-year-old spent about 80 minutes in the cave before escaping. He was airlifted to Morristown Medical Center for treatment.
Just one day after the incident, Petronino’s father, Michael, told NBC News that his son was in “bad shape” and would have to undergo several hours of surgery.