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Calif. teen 1 of 4 attacked by grizzly bear in Alaska

July 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A teenager from California is among a group of people recovering from a grizzly bear attack in Alaska on Saturday.

Trekking through the natural wonders of the Alaskan wilderness, seven teenagers on a 30-day back-country survival course northeast of Anchorage found themselves in a fight for their lives.

As they lined up to ford a river, they were suddenly under attack.

"As they were doing the crossing, they heard from the front of the line somebody screamed that there was a bear and that's when the mauling started," said Megan Peters, a spokeswoman for the Alaska State Troopers.

The mother grizzly, which was protecting her cub, went at the intruders tooth and claw.

They ran for their lives, but the bear was too fast and too ferocious for four of them.

Among the injured was 18-year-old Victor Martin of Richmond. The teen was bitten several times in the ankles and feet. He was treated at a hospital and released.

Martin's grandmother said the incident should never have happened.

"How could they train them for only three weeks and let them go out where bears are?" Tonnette Martin said.

Martin used his survival skills to help the more seriously injured and alert rescue crews with an emergency beacon.

Five hours passed before a helicopter flew them to safety.

Samuel Gottsegen, 17, of Denver suffered life-threatening wounds. He told his parents over the phone that he had cuts on his stomach and back, two broken ribs and bite marks on his head.

"Just hearing his voice was like a miracle, it was just amazing because the hour that I spent before that was probably one of the hardest hours of my life," said Gottsegen's mother, Mindy Gottsegen.

A 17-year-old boy from New York was the most severely injured of the four. He's listed in serious condition in a hospital in Anchorage with severe bite wounds.

The attack came just weeks after a Torrance man died in a grizzly attack in Yellowstone National Park.

Brian Matayoshi, 57, was mauled and bitten during a hike with his wife. She escaped with only minor injuries.

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