Bear Attacks Teens In Alaska

Alaska State Troopers, Bear Hunting Magazine
07/24/2011

Early Sunday morning a group of teenagers participating in an outdoor survival skills and leadership program were rescued after being attack by a brown bear with a cub near Chulitna, Alaska.

Saturday night around 9:30 pm the Alaska State Troopers in Talkeetna received a report from the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) that a Personal Locator Beacon (PLC) device was activated in a location approximately 34 miles east of mile 143 if the Parks Highway, near Chulitna.

The PLB is assigned to a team of seven students from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). 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 PLB and instructed not to use it unless a member of their group faced a medical emergency or other emergency situation. Helo 1 launched from Fairbanks to investigate the nature of the emergency.

Helo 1, with a pilot and trooper aboard, located the teens at 2:45 am in a tent where the PLB signal was transmitting. The group stated they were attack by a brown bear with a cub. Two of the teens sustained serious life threatening injuries, two suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries and the remaining three suffered minor injuries or had exposure-related issues. Troopers contacted RCC for assistance and it dispatched a helo with PJs to the scene.

It was determined that the two teens with the most critical injuries could not safely be transported by Helo 1. Due to the nature of their injuries, transport could only be safely done by an aircraft designed for medical transport with crew that had proper medical training. A trooper remained on scene with those two teens and a third that was determined to be the least in need of medical attention. The trooper provided protection for the teens and tended to their needs as best he could until RCC arrived approximately four hours later.

Helo 1 transported the other four group members to the Talkeetna Airport where they were met by a trooper and EMS. All were transported to Mat-Su Regional Hospital in Palmer via ambulance to be medically evaluated and treated for their injuries. RCC was able to successful extract the Trooper and three remaining teens from the field and transported them to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

The teens reported to troopers that at approximately 8:30 pm they were conducting a river crossing in a line, one in front of the other. The people at the back of the line stated that as they were crossing they heard their group members at the front of the line screaming there was a bear. The two teens at the front of the line received the brunt of the bear attack. After the attack was over the teens were able to set up a camp, provide first aid to each other and activate their PLB.

Families of the teenagers involved were notified of the incident and officials in charge of the NOLS training center in Palmer are actively involved with the investigation of this incident. Alaska Wildlife Troopers in Wasilla were notified and are making appropriate notifications to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to determine further action. There are still three NOLS instructors and a group of seven NOLS students in the field on their skills and leadership course. The group of seven students are unaware that this mauling has taken place and their exact location is unknown at this time. A Trooper is currently flying the area in an attempt to locate the bear and the remaining group in the field. The AOLS administration is in the process of chartering an aircraft to remove the remaining students and staff from the field. It is unknown at this time why this bear attack occurred.



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