Lifestyle & Human Interest

Wife Recounts Terrifying Moment Husband Throws Body Over Family To Save Them from Wolf


What should have been a restful camping trip with family in Banff National Park outside of Calgary, Canada, turned into “something out of a horror movie” when a wolf attacked the family while they slept at a campground in the park.

With Banff National Park’s crystal clear lakes and majestic mountain views, it’s no wonder why millions of visitors from all over the world flock to the park each year.

Elisa and Matthew Rispoli thought it would be a perfect place for their family to spend quality time together, so they decided to camp at Rampart Creek Campground, near Lake Louise.

But on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, around 1 a.m., the family was abruptly awoken when a wolf attacked their tent.

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A family was attacked by a wolf in Rampart Creek Campground in Banff National Park on Aug. 9, 2019. (Courtesy of Parks Canada)

“It was like something out of a horror movie,” Elisa later wrote on Facebook. “Matt literally threw his body in front of me and the boys, and fought the Wolf as it ripped apart our tent and his arms and hands.”

Elisa recounted the horrific incident, explaining how her husband began wrestling with the wild animal to protect his family.

“The Wolf started to drag Matt away, while I was pulling on his legs trying to get him back. I cannot and don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly describe the terror,” she continued.

As the family watched the wolf begin to drag Matthew away, others in the campsite began to wake up to the sounds of screams and snarls coming from the Rispoli family’s campsite.

Elisa said that one brave neighbor named Russ, whom she refers to as a “guardian angel,” rushed to help free Matthew from the wolf’s terrifying grip.

Russ and Matthew then began to throw rocks to deter the animal from the campsite, and Elisa and her two sons ran to hide in their car.

“The rest of the night is a blur of EMTs, good Samaritans, waiting for treatment, no phone service and crying,” Elisa wrote. “But here we are in Banff hospital, where Matt’s puncture wounds, and lacerations on his hands and arms have been treated and he’s ok.”

“We are pretty traumatized but ok.”

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In a statement sent to The Western Journal, Parks Canada confirmed that they euthanized the wolf responsible for the attack on Aug. 9, 2019, adding that the wolf was in “poor condition and likely nearing the end of its natural life span.”

The Rampart Creek Campground was closed following the incident to ensure the safety for future guests but was reopened on Aug. 13, 2019.

“Parks Canada is confident that the campground is safe to open,” Parks Canada said in an Aug. 13 statement sent to The Western Journal. “DNA test results have confirmed that the wolf involved in the attack was the same animal destroyed by Parks Canada staff near the campground shortly after the attack.”

“Public safety remains our top priority and Parks Canada takes the protection of wildlife very seriously. In rare incidences such as these, the destruction of an individual animal is required to ensure public safety.”

Amy Krause, a public relations and communications officer for Parks Canada, told The Western Journal that this is the first time a wolf has injured a human in a Canadian national park.

While no food or other attractants were found near the Rispoli’s tent, Krause stressed how important it is to be aware of what can attract wildlife while camping.

“Visitors are encouraged to walk in groups, make plenty of noise and keep alert,” Krause told The Western Journal.

“Dogs must be on leash at all times and small children should be kept close by. Food and other attractants must be stored indoors, in the car, or in secure lockers as wolves and other wildlife can be attracted to food items. Never feed wildlife and report wildlife sightings in the national park promptly to Banff Dispatch at 1-403-762-1470.”

Elisa recognizes that while the incident was traumatic, it could’ve been worse — and for that, she’s thankful.

“It could have been so so much worse, and we are just feeling so thankful that we are all still sitting here as a complete family,” she wrote on Facebook. “Matt is our absolute hero (I mean, way more than he normally was) and we are forever grateful to Russ who came to our aid and likely saved Matt’s life.”

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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