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Bicyclist reunited with Collier County woman he helped save from bear

A man meets the woman he helped save from a scary bear attack in a Collier County. But he says not to call him a hero.

He detailed how his normal bike ride turned into a rescue mission. Joe Schmitt says it was a scary site. “The bear got up on its hind legs and it actually towered over you,” Schmitt says.

This is the first time he and the woman he saved are trading stories. “She was punching punching and kicking it it was unbelievable. You did it all!”

Kathleen Boyle says her dad did teach her a little about bears. “My dad just drummed into my head brown bear stay calm black bear you’ve got to stand and fight,” said Boyle.

Boyle hasn’t seen Schmitt since he helped her and her two dogs fight off a bear on Christmas Eve. The bear came at her in her Fiddler’s Creek Community.

She tried her best to find him. “We’ve contacted everyone we know in the community and said ‘do you know who it is?” Boyle said. “There’s a fellow who drives on his bike in the morning you know bright green bright yellow shirt.’ ‘Oh yeah we’ve seen him.’ ‘Who is it?’ ‘I don’t know his name.’ ‘Ahhh!!'”

Now, Boyle is finally getting to express her gratitude to the man who saved her. “Thank you so much! Only reason I’m standing is because you came around that corner and were able to distract the bear,” she said.

Schmitt said that he was just on his normal morning bike ride when he heard something. “Actually, just getting toward the end of the ride and I heard some screaming,” he said.

So, Joe Schmitt rode as fast as he could to help. “All I could think of was it was a matter of split-second you know I have to get down there I thought you were being attacked I mean I thought you were going to be bit,” Schmitt said.

Together, they were able to get the bear away.  “I said this is not going to be good I thought the next thing I’d be doing is first aid on you,” said Schmitt.

Boyle says she knew that there wouldn’t be many people out and just hoped someone would come and help.

“I know as Joe said there are only a few people out there early in the morning and I just was trying to hold on long enough that someone would be walking,” she said.

But, despite helping her, Schmitt says he doesn’t want too much credit. “I didn’t really do as much as she thinks I did because all they did was scream and yell and kind of get the bike in the way,” Schmitt said.

He believes it was all Kathleen. “She went full martial arts,” said Schmitt.

But whether he takes full credit or not, at least she got to thank him. “So delighted yes, we finally get to thank him because it would’ve been a different holiday for Don if Joe hadn’t come around that corner,” said Boyle.

Kathleen Boyle and her husband will forever be grateful to Joe Schmitt, the bicyclist.

One of Boyle’s dog’s, ironically named Bear, was injured in the encounter but is recovering well.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Drew Hill
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