A 20-year-old Girdwood woman was flown to an Anchorage hospital Tuesday with bites and scratches to her head, back and arm after she was mauled by a brown bear near Skilak Lake, emergency responders reported.
Gabrielle Markel, an employee of Alaska Wildland Adventures lodge, and a co-worker were running on a trail about three-quarters of a mile from the lodge at around 4:30 p.m. when an adult grizzly emerged from thick brush and attacked Markel, according to an Alaska State Troopers dispatch released late Tuesday.
The co-worker, Kaitlin Haley, 26, of California, fled to the lodge to call for help while the bear was still on top of Markel, troopers said.
Haley and other lodge workers set off with bear spray to return to the scene of the attack but encountered Markel walking back toward the lodge. The employees got Markel into a boat and took her across Skilak Lake, where they met responders from Central Emergency Services at the Upper Skilak Lake boat launch southeast of Sterling, troopers said.
Terry Bookey, CES captain, said CES requested helicopter services. Around 5:20 p.m., both CES and LifeMed arrived near the boat launch. Markel was flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center.
"It sounds like she had some pretty significant injuries and will have a long road ahead of her," Bookey said. But she was conscious and breathing, he said. He said her injuries were not life-threatening.
Bookey said it was reported that Markel was able to walk to the boat after the mauling. He said the mauling occurred off Cottonwood Creek on the opposite side of the lake from the launch.
It remained unclear when and how the brown bear left Markel. Bookey said it was reported that she "tried to use bear spray to no avail," though troopers' dispatch made no mention of that. What prompted the bear to attack was unknown, troopers said.
In 2014, two women runners were mauled by bears in separate incidents near Anchorage.
In 2010, a teacher jogging alone on a road near Chignik Lake on the Alaska Peninsula was killed by wolves.
Reporter Jerzy Shedlock contributed to this story.
Check back for updates to this developing story.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing