Hikers killed by bear sent chilling final message from Garmin communicator

Bear warning sign in Canada
(Image credit: Getty)

A couple killed by a grizzly bear at a Canadian National Park last week sent a simple but ominous final message from their Garmin communicator before succumbing to their injuries: "bear attack bad".

As The Guardian reports, the pair have now been named as Doug Inglis and Jenny Gusse. Both were experienced hikers and campers, well-versed in wildlife safety, and had packed appropriately for their trip into the backcountry with bear spray, a cellphone, and a satellite communicator that would allow them to stay in touch with family even without mobile connectivity, and call for lifesaving help in an emergency.

On the evening of September 31, Inglis's uncle received text from the pair informing them that they had reached base safely after a delay. However, shortly later he got a call from Garmin's InReach support center informing him that the couple had activated the device's interactive SOS function, and sent a short but chilling message.

The support center, which is connected to emergency services all over the world, also notified Parks Canada, which immediately dispatched a specialized team that deals specifically with wildlife attacks. However, bad weather meant they were unable to use a helicopter, and by the time the team arrived on the scene, Inglis, Gusse and their dog Tris had sadly passed away.

All precautions followed

The wildlife attack team found the bear later that day – an elderly female with teeth in poor condition and unusually low fat stores. Parks Canada has said it will not speculate on the cause of the attack, but it has echoes of a similar incident in 2018 when a starving grizzly attacked and killed a woman and her child in in Yukon.

The couple had followed proper safety precautions, and their food cache was hung up well away from their tent, undisturbed. Their family believe they were probably taken surprise while reading in their tent. They had deployed a can bear spray, and there were signs that they had tried to scare off the animal.

"They lived for being in the backcountry and were two of the most cautious people I know," said a relative shortly after the incident. "They knew bear protocol and followed it to a tee."

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.