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Bellevue, Wash., councilman loses eye after bear attack

Bellevue, Wash., City Council member John Chelminiak loses his left eye because he was mauled by a black bear Sept. 17.
Bellevue, Wash., City Council member John Chelminiak
Bellevue, Wash., City Council member John Chelminiak
/ Source: The Associated Press

Bellevue City Council member John Chelminiak, mauled by a black bear two weeks ago, has lost his left eye because of the attack.

Chelminiak, 57, was viciously attacked by a black bear while walking his dog Sept. 17 near his cabin along Lake Wenatchee, about 100 miles from his home.

He was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment, and doctors eventually determined that damage to his left eye was so severe it had to be removed, said Bellevue city spokesman Tim Waters.

Sight in his right eye, however, is recovering, and Chelminiak has been able to read well during recovery. He expects to regain sight for all normal activities from reading to writing to active sports like skiing.

The Bellevue city councilman also is being treated for several major wounds on his left side, which are healing well. Further surgeries will be necessary, say his doctors.

Chelminiak is now able to walk around his hospital room, talking with members of his family and receiving care for his wounds, Water said.

According to family and friends, the bear attack could have been a lot worse if not for the quick actions of Cehlminiak's wife, Lynn Semler, who was able to chase the bear away by turning on lights and screaming.

Wildlife officials later were able to locate the female black bear — about 10 years old and without cubs — and killed her about three hours after the mauling incident.