Bellevue City Councilman John Chelminiak is talking for the first time about the bear attack he survived last month. He described the fight for his life in chilling detail Wednesday morning from Harborview Medical Center, where he's recovering.

Chelminiak said it all started when he began to walk his dogs at his Lake Wenatchee cabin in the early evening on September 17. As his family stayed behind in the cabin, he walked the dogs to the end of his driveway. Within seconds of turning onto the road, he heard rustling in the bushes and the sound of a bear's heavy breathing.

"She was then running directly at me on the road. I could hear the (bear's) nails on the road and within a second --  a split second -- I saw the bear coming and she just launched right into me," Chelminiak said, his head still wrapped in bandages.

He said he had to wrestle with the bear. At times, they both fell over and kept getting back up. He tried to push the bear off of him. And he was still holding on to his dogs.

"We sort of went back and forth -- she was clawing on me and I was pushing her off," Chelminiak said. "I got a moment where there was a break. I had the dogs on the lead and I ran. I started running up the driveway and the bear came around the corner and pounced on the dogs. I remember just grabbing with all of my strength and pulling the dogs on their lead to pull the dogs out from under her."

He freed the dogs, but that didn't stop the bear, which attacked Chelminiak again. He said he knew that if he was pinned on his back, he'd be in trouble because the bear might claw or bite his neck or abdomen and kill him. So he focused on staying on his feet.

"Every time she would get on me, claw, bite and knock me down, what I would do is just force my way back up and keep her behind me. I just thought that if I could do that, then maybe we could get this done and she would go away," he said.

But the bear didn't go away. It kept attacking. Cheminiak remembers every gruesome moment.

"There were times when she was just clawing over the top. There were times when she was biting. I just vividly remember being bitten on the head and the sound that that makes as her teeth were going into my head and running along the skull. It was just a horrendous fight."

Chelminiak also had to become the aggressor in the fight.

"She came lunging with her head toward my abdomen and I did what every red-blooded male would do and that was protect. It was probably the one really good shot that I got in: I just came up with my knee and hit her pretty good. She got me in the upper abdomen and that's fine -- there's a wound there that's closing."

Then the fight stopped. He said he didn't know why it had stopped, but it did. He was badly hurt and bleeding profusely. He said his legs gave out, so he began yelling "Bear! Bear! Call 911."

Chelminiak's dogs had gone to the cabin, where his wife, Lynn, and daughter, Megan, were inside. They came out and heard his cries for help. Lynn went down to the driveway. The bear walked away a short distance, but kept pacing by the road as Lynn tried to call 911 and help her husband. He wanted her to go back inside but Lynn refused and stayed by his side, keeping the flashlight on the bear and talking with the 911 dispatcher.

"She was incredible. I cannot say enough about what Lynn did," Chelminiak said. "I'm alive because of that."

The bear was tracked down and killed as medics and doctors worked to save Chelminiak's life. An ambulance took him to Central Washington Hospital before a helicopter flew him to Harborview. Chelminiak lost his left eye as a result of the attack. He had surgery for several major wounds on the left side of his body at Harborview two weeks ago.

"The care at Wenatchee was tremendous," a grateful Cheminiak said. "They got me stabilized. I can remember a number of the discussions we had about getting me stablized so I could go through a medevac -- and their desire to get me here to Harborview. And this was the place that I needed to be. This is the place where they literally pieced me back together. And I can't be more thankful for what each and every individual who touched me in the medical realm from up at the lake to here at Harborview has done for me because I think, with the extent of the injury, that it's a miracle that I made it through."