Health

Bear Attacks Teens in Alaska; Use Survival Skills to Stay Alive

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

Seven teenagers in the midst of a survival skills course were forced to use those skills after a grizzly bear attacked four of them in the Alaskan wilderness. And they must have learned their lessons well. Despite hospitalization, they all survived the attack.

As details start to emerge a couple of questions have surfaced: Should teens be put into a situations like this without an adult -- and should at least one of them had a weapon for self defense?

The Daily Mail reports that the teens were hiking Saturday evening during the 24th day of a month-long survival course run by the National Outdoor Leadership School. A spokesman said they were alone because they had learned enough skills to cope with potential problems.

One potential problem roared up at them -- a grizzly bear that was very protective of her cubs. The teens tried to run away, but the bear was able to catch up to four of them, mauling them.

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After the bear left, the teens set off their emergency beacon, and went to work treating their wounds with information learned during the course.

Two of the teens were bleeding badly -- the others made a bandage out of a garbage bag and sent up tents while they waited for help to arrive. Several hours later helicopters responded to bring them to the hospital.

Two of the teens were initially listed in critical condition, but they are both expected to survive. One of them, 17-year-old Samuel Gottsegen from Denver, suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs after the bear bit him in the chest. He was also bitten on the head. But he was well enough to speak to a Denver TV station on the phone after surgery.

"We saw the first person go around a corner and yelled, 'Bear!' and started running backwards. I looked behind me and the bear was behind me. So, I started running down the hill and it tackled me on the way down."

Officials had high praise for the boys' coping and survival skills.

"These teenagers were able to survive the mauling in the first place and then come together, establish a camp," Alaska State Trooper Megan Peters said. "It's remarkable."