Who needs a gun in the Alaskan wilderness?

Update: According to the CNN version of the story (h/t SayUncle), they carried bear spray. Obviously, it didn’t work. There’s a reason bear spray is generally known as “people seasoning”.

Also, CNN reports that two of the students were so badly injured that the medevac* helicopter wouldn’t take them. That’s Bad. That means they expect you to die during the flight (there’s not enough room in most EMS helicopters to have appropriate access to the patient to deal with that). Alternatively, it is possible that there were severe, life threatening injuries in areas that the flight crew would not have access to in flight. Common EMS helicopters like the EC-135 and EC-145, or even the venerable Bell 412, have limited or no access to any areas below a patient’s waist.

* I’m assuming it was a medevac helicopter, and that the second aircraft that did take them was a fixed wing medical flight. But, we all know how the press routinely screws up the details, so take that for what it’s worth.


Everyone. Especially if you’re responsible for the safety of others.

The teens were hiking in the Talkeetna Mountains east of Denali National Park and were trying to cross a river when the grizzly attacked Saturday night, the troopers said.

The two 17-year-old students in the lead, Joshua Berg of New York and Samuel Gottsegen of Denver, bore the brunt of the attack, the troopers said.

Other members were able to activate an emergency beacon and the group was rescued on Sunday morning by the Alaska Air National Guard, the troopers said.

While Berg and Gottsegen were the most severely mauled, two other students, 16-year-old Noah Allaire of Albuquerque and 18-year-old Victor Martin of Richmond, California, also were hospitalized with injuries.

Seriously, why on earth would anyone be out in the Alaska wilderness without a gun? It’s called the wild for a reason!

The bear was a sow that appeared to be guarding a cub, said Don Ford, the outdoor school’s Alaska director.

“They believe there was a cub,” Ford said. “They didn’t actually see the cub, but they saw some rustling in the brush.”

This was not a random attack, or a case of the students doing something stupid like sleeping with food in their tents. They simply got too close to a cub that they never actually saw, and didn’t even know was there, until it was too late. That is something that could happen to anyone wandering in the woods where there are bears.

Now, I can understand the students not having guns, but for the 3 instructors that were with them to not be armed on a 30 day hike in the Alaskan wilderness, when they were responsible for the lives and safety of the students that were with them, is simply inexcusable.


[Source: Reuters story on Yahoo! News, retrieved 7/25/11]

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  1. I remember reading that Lewis & Clark considered the plains Grizzly just about the worst threat they ran into; their natural reaction to anything they considered a threat or surprise was to attack it. And they take a LOT of stopping.


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