Brown bear attacks teens in Alaska

A brown bear and her cub attacked a group of teenage boys in Alaska Saturday night. Four boys were injured and in critical condition.

The teens were on the 24th day of a 30-day National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) program, which is  designed to teach outdoor travel and leadership skills, according to the NOLS press release.

They were on the student expedition portion of the trip, so no instructors were present.The boys were crossing a creek in the western Talkeetna Mountains when the incident occurred. The first boy in the single-file line yelled, “Bear! Bear!” when he rounded a bend and saw the bear. The boys in the front got the worst of the assault.

The boys have stated that they were carrying bear spray, according to NOLS guidelines, but could not reach it quickly enough. They also called out to the bear, as they had been taught to do.

After the bear left, the teens set up camp, provided emergency first-aid to the injured, and set off the emergency beacon.

State troopers said that authorities in a helicopter located the boys’ tent around 2:45 a.m. on Sunday. Two of the boys were determined too injured to be safely transported by the helicopter. A state trooper and a boy who was determined to be in the best condition stayed on the ground; the other four boys were taken to Mat-Su Regional Hospital in Palmer. Around 6:45 a.m., a better-equipped vehicle arrived and transported the remaining three boys to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

As of Tuesday morning, only the two most critically injured boys were still hospitalized. Joshua Berg, who led the group across the river and was the first attacked, suffers from a cracked skull and remains in critical condition. Samuel Gottsegen experienced two broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a bite to the head; he has been upgraded to good condition.Both boys are expected to make full recoveries.State troopers have also reported that the boys were doing nothing wrong. The bear was defending its cub, who the boys did not see.
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12 Comments

  1. Posted July 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Your supposed to be still and remain very quiet. Why would they teach these boys to yell and scream? Maybe they panicked , at least their ok.

  2. Posted July 27, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    So many bear stories lately. Seems like one should always carry bear spray while hiking? Any pearls?

  3. Posted July 28, 2011 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    So sad!!!! I lived up there of 10 years. NO Messing around with bears or moose or wolverines. This is a dangerous time to fish and food out is absolutely asking for trouble. What happened ??? God bless the boys and their families.

  4. Nancy
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    Yelling is panic not teaching. Look big and stay quiet as you back away. BUT it was a mother protecting her cub(s) around a blind corner. The bears are near the water to fish, and it’s not deep near the shore in Talkeetna no matter which river you are on. The boys should have been taught not to go near the rivers except to cross and then in areas of clear vision. Not always possible but 24 ddays in AK doesn’t equip anyone for this.

  5. Posted July 28, 2011 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    OK, I read it and it was a mother protecting her cubs. The boys will physically recover but one is in critical condition in Anchorage (crushed skull).

  6. Posted August 1, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Prayers with you all. =(

  7. luke
    Posted September 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    It is good to carry a big stick and light it on fire this scares the bears. But you never yell at them you just wave a stick that is on fire. you have to push it in there face and they will run away. bears are friendly they will only attack if they feel that there young is threatened or if they see food.

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