We pause to mourn the passing of a unique man in the annals of the environment, recycling and innovation, three themes very important at Echo Environmental.
When those passions joined together for Troy Hurtubise, the result was the world’s first body suit designed to protect the person inside from grizzly bear attacks.
Mr. Hurtubise, 54, perished last week in a tragic car-truck accident near North Bay, Ontario. Tributes to the Canadian inventor emphasized the words “quixotic” and “eccentric.”
As a young outdoorsman, he survived a chance encounter with a grizzly bear and vowed to invent a spray that would repel them. But he realized he would have to test it in the wild – and needed a backup plan in case it didn’t work.
So Mr. Hurtubise, who had a scrap metal business, got to work. He spent a fortune crafting various versions of a bear-proof suit described by the Hamilton Spectator as “a cross between RoboCop and the Michelin Man.”
It was a commercial failure. But the suit brought fame in internet videos of him in the suit being pushed off a cliff, whacked with baseball bats and such, a cult-classic documentary film Project Grizzly, and an episode of The Simpsons where Homer tries to do the same thing. He also won the 1998 Ig Nobel Prize for Safety Engineering, a whimsical award for genuine accomplishments doled out annually at Harvard.
In later years Mr. Hurtubise tried to develop a heat-proofing paste, a ray gun that would regrow hair and a box to capture dark matter, among other things. Nothing panned out, nor did a recent attempt to raise money for a movie sequel.
“He likes to take on the impossible,”his son Brett recently told a Canadian newspaper.
We share that passion with him as well. RIP, Grizzly Man.