DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver teenager has been upgraded to good condition as he recovers from broken ribs and bite wounds after being mauled by a bear in Alaska.
The attack happened Saturday in the Talkeetna Mountains in a remote spot about 120 miles north of Anchorage.
Samuel Gottsegen’s parents are heading to Alaska to be with their 17-year-old son. They told CBS4’s Kathy Walsh they’ve got a flight to Anchorage Monday night. They said they talked with Sam earlier Monday and said he’s doing okay.
Mindy and John Gottsegen said their son Sam is a young man who fell in love with the outdoors after taking an Outward Bound course last year. This year he wanted something more challenging, and he got it.
Sam was all smiles posing for pictures before leaving for Alaska. He went off on a 30-day survival course. But 24 days later, his mother was beside herself.
“I just was in shock,” Mindy said. “I just feared the worst, actually.”
Mindy got a call that Sam was seriously hurt after getting mauled by the bear.
“They couldn’t even tell me if he was alive still,” she said.
Seven students had been sent into the wild as part of the skills course offered by the National Outdoor Leadership School. They were crossing a river when they surprised a bear with her cub.
“They heard the attack and the screaming before they even saw the bear attacking the first boy,” Mindy said.
Joshua Berg of New York was the most seriously hurt. Sam ran, but was tackled.
“Knocked Sam down on his back and then was attacking him and biting his chest and Sam was fighting back and kicking,” Mindy said.
Sam has a punctured lung, broken ribs and deep bite wounds.
The teens took care of those hurt for six hours before help arrived.
“As the weather got bad they set up tents and they focused in their attention on the students who were most injured,” Bruce Palmer with the National Outdoor Leadership School said.
“Sam said they wrapped them up with a garbage bag,” John Gottsegen said. “I guess just anything to staunch the bleeding.”
Officials said it took six hours before help arrived. About 8:30 p.m. Saturday the students activated their personal location beacon. Alaska state troopers got the signal. A trooper and a helicopter pilot didn’t locate the tent until about 3 a.m. Sunday.
Reports are one 16-year-old boy in particular seemed to be a lifesaver. Samuel Boas of Westport, Conn. wasn’t hurt. Apparently he used his training as an emergency medical technician to help those who were.
Sam’s worried parents finally got a comforting call.
“It was so sweet to hear his voice,” Mindy said.
“We’re just so thankful he’s alive,” John said.
It’s not clear when Sam will be released from the hospital.