A group of seven teenagers who'd been learning survival skills in the Alaska wilderness were attacked Saturday night by a brown bear sow with cub.
The teenagers had been in the backcountry for some time, training with the National Outdoor Leadership School, which has a sizable staff focused on outdoors education and training in Palmer, the county seat of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in Southcentral Alaska.
Two of the teenagers were badly mauled by the bear and suffered "serious, life threatening injuries," according to Megan Peters, a spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers and Department of Public Safety. Two others were seriously injured but sustained non-life-threatening injuries. The three others all suffered "minor injuries or had exposure-related issues," Peters said.
All of the teenagers were between 16 and 18 years old and were from the Lower 48, Peters said. Their families have all been notified, as had counselors at the National Outdoor Leadership School, which is assisting troopers in investigating the accident.
The teenagers were identified as: Samuel Boas, 16 of Westport, Conn.; Noah Allaine, 16, Albuquerque, N.M.; Shane Garlock, 16, Pittsford, N.Y.; Joshua Berg, 17, New York, N.Y.; Samuel Gottsegen, 17, Denver, Colo.; Simeon Melman, Huntington, N.Y.; and Victor Martin, 18, Richmond, Calif.
Troopers at the Talkeetna office received word about 9:30 Saturday night that a beacon assigned to the school had been activated in the wilderness about 34 miles east of mile 143 of the Parks Highway, near Chulitna.
"The group, along with other teens and instructors, had been in the wilderness for approximately one month learning survival skills. The teens were given a (locator beacon) and instructed not to use it unless a member of their group faced a medical emergency or other emergency situation," Peters said in the press release.
A Fairbanks-based search and rescue helicopter was dispatched to locate the exact point from which the beacon was transmitting. By 2:45 a.m. they had found the teens in a tent.
According to Troopers, the two teens most seriously injured were in need of medical evacuation. They would wait four hours at the site, with a trooper, to be rescued and transported to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.
The others were immediately airlifted out by helicopter to the Talkeetna Airport, where they were met by an ambulance that took them to Mat-Su Regional Hospital in Palmer, according to Peters.
Contact Eric Christopher Adams at eric(at)alaskadispatch.com