Pittsford teen survives bear attack in Alaska | News
A Pittsford teen, three weeks into wilderness training in Alaska, survives a bear attack. But two of his fellow campers are seriously mauled.
16-year-old Shane Garlock, a student at Pittsford Mendon High School, was one of seven young men taking part in a 30-day backcountry course with the National Outdoor Leadership School.
News 10NBC spoke with Kimberly Garlock, Shane’s mother, at their home in Pittsford. She says she’s talked with her son and says he’s doing remarkable well. But that this was a traumatic situation, and they’re concerned with his emotional well-being. Her husband, and an older brother who also took this course, have flown out to Alaska to be with Shane.
Shane’s mom says the course is more about wilderness and leadership skills, not survival. But survive they did. The students were lined up, single file for a river crossing when the grizzly burst into the front of the line. Two teens were badly mauling. The others pitched a tent, did emergency first aid and activated their emergency locator beacon.
One of the two seriously injured with bear bite wounds was 17-year-old Samuel Gottsegen, of Denver. He spoke by phone from hospital bed.
“I thought I was going to die when I was attacked. I was so scared,” said Gottsegen. “We saw the first person go around the corner and yell 'bear' and started running backwards. And 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.”
A trooper and pilot in a helicopter reached the students four hours later, but decided the two most seriously injured would need a med-evac helicopter with a medically trained crew. The trooper and another student trained as an EMT, stayed behind with the badly injured teens for four more hours until that med-evac helicopter arrived. But they immediately flew four other teens out to the closest airport and hospital.
“They came face to face with absolute worst Alaska has to offer. And after the bear mauling, they were able to come together and take care of each other as best they could, provide each other first aid as best they could, hunker down and call for help. They left the backcountry alive. How incredible. It just speaks volumes about their character, their wit, and their gumption. What an amazing group,” said Megan Peters, Alaska State Police.
Garlock’s mother says he was treated for exposure and he may fly home to Rochester by the weekend.