An incredible story of survival out of northwestern Quebec, where a 44-year-old was rescued as few as 24 hours before officials believe he would have likely died. Marco Lavoie set off on July 16 for what he intended to be a two-month spell in the woods, reports the Canadian Press. The timeline of what happened between that date and Oct. 30 is somewhat mushy: About a month after his departure, a bear attacked his campsite, leaving him without food or gear. Sgt. Ronald McInnis tells ABC News, "His dog went between the man and the bear and protected him." Unconfirmed reports say Lavoie was later forced to eat the German shepherd; McInnis wouldn't comment on that detail other than to say the dog did not survive, reports CNN.
But the details that have been confirmed are pretty jarring: Lavoie lost nearly half his body weight and had begun to suffer from hypothermia, having weathered snow and temps below freezing. He was essentially unable to eat, drink, or speak when he was found, having been spotted by helicopter along the Nottaway River on Wednesday, nine days after a missing persons report was filed (as an experienced outdoorsman, Lavoie's family wasn't initially concerned when he didn't return as scheduled). Lavoie is expected to recover after what will likely be weeks spent on an IV, and police are waiting to talk to him about his experience. One survival instructor, talking to the Montreal Gazette, had this to say: "Up there, in the Canadian shield, there's little plant life to live off so he would have been slowly, painfully dying when they found him. It's an amazing feat that he was able to keep himself alive this long with almost no equipment." (Click to read about another tale of survival involving a bear.)