A bison attack derailed Chris Whitehill’s plans to propose to Amber Harris at Yellowstone National Park this week, but it didn’t wreck them entirely.
In a silver lining to the scary ordeal, the couple got engaged in the hospital July 17 after Harris was seriously injured when a bison gored her near Lake Yellowstone.
“I’ve replayed it so many times, it was such a freak accident,” Whitehill told NBC’s "TODAY" show.
Harris, 47, was enjoying morning coffee with Whitehill and her daughter, Rylee Eckbad, when they spotted a pair of bison. One that was about 50 yards away began dropping and rolling in the dirt before running toward them, Harris wrote on Facebook.
"We just kept moving away, moving away,” Whitehill said. "I told Amber, 'Do not run.'"
The bison, which can run three times as fast as a human, charged at Harris.
“He struck her head-on and she was airborne,” Whitehill told NBC affiliate KPNX of Phoenix. “I think she did one or two backflips in the air, and I was screaming and yelling trying to distract him. She landed pretty hard on her back.”
The National Park Service said in a news release that she was transported by helicopter to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. It’s the first reported instance of a bison goring at the park this year and the first since June 2022, park officials said.
Harris wrote on Facebook that she suffered seven spinal fractures, bilateral collapsed lungs and “bruising all over.”
“Glory to God all my vital organs look good,” she wrote.
She entered the hospital as Whitehill’s girlfriend and will exit it as his fiancée after he went through with his proposal in a much different setting than hoped.
“Chris had planned a beautiful marriage proposal this week on a natural bridge but all three of us have been in the hospital since yesterday morning and I won’t be able to leave any time soon,” Harris wrote on Facebook. “So my love got down on one knee beside my hospital bed last night and formally asked me to be his wife.
“Without any hesitation I said yes!”
Harris’ ordeal came after another woman was gored by a bison at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota last weekend.
While bison attacks are rare, the National Park Service is reminding tourists to keep their distance, especially during the summer mating season that runs through the middle of August.