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NOLS students rescued after bear attack near Denali State Park

by Sue Deyoe ~ July 25th, 2011

A  backcountry rescue of a group of teenagers took place early Sunday morning after an attack by a grizzly bear near Denali state Park.

A team of 7 students from the National Outdoor Leadership School along with other teens and instructors had been in the wilderness for a month learning survival skills.

Late Saturday night, State Troopers received a report from the rescue coordination center that a locator beacon had been activated 34 miles east of Byers Lake Campground in Denali State Park.

The troopers HELO One with a pilot and trooper onboard, located the teenagers at about 2:45 Sunday morning.  The group stated they had been attacked by a brown bear with a cub.

The teens said as they were crossing a river at 8:30 the evening before, members at the front of the group started screaming about a bear.  The 2 teens in front of the line crossing the river received the brunt of the attack.  After the bear left, the others set up a camp, provided first aid and activated the locator beacon.

Two of the teens had sustained serious life threatening injuries – the others received some injuries but nothing life threatening.  Another helicopter was dispatched with parajumpers.

The two with the most critical injuries could only be safely transported by a special medical aircraft.  The other people were transported to Talkeetna where they were met by local EMS.  All were transported to Mat Su Regional.  The teens with serious injuries were transported to Providence in Anchorage.

The backcountry group was all between 16 and 18.  It was their first day unaccompanied by adults. The group was from all over the U.S.  None of the teens were from Alaska.

Saturdays bear attack was supposedly only the second in the schools history.  NOLS leads treks all over Alaska each summer, from a climb on Denali, to courses in the Brooks Range, in the southeast and in the Talkeetna Mountains.

More on the students condition is unknown at this point.  It is also unknown if AK Fish and Game has made any decisions on the sow and cub…..more will follow.

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