Woman drives hospital after surviving brown bear attack during Alaska hike

The Associated Press
August 13, 2014 07:36 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A 57-year-old woman drove herself to a hospital after she was mauled by a brown bear in Alaska, state troopers said Wednesday.

Wildlife troopers were notified Tuesday afternoon that Thea Thomas of Cordova was attacked by the bear while hiking on Heney Ridge Trail in the Cordova area.

Thomas sustained substantial injuries, but they are not believed to be life-threatening, according to troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters.

Peters said she was unable to discuss the woman's specific injuries because of privacy issues.

"The trooper told me that when she checked herself into the hospital, he said it was almost like the people who were working on her were more shocked than she was," Peters said. "The trooper said she was very pragmatic and calm about everything."

Thomas was listed in fair condition Wednesday at an Anchorage hospital, where she was transferred after checking in at her local hospital.

Salmon were actively spawning in a nearby stream as Thomas hiked alone with her dog and a friend's dog, Peters said. The dogs ran off, then returned shortly with the bear running after them.

The bear noticed Thomas and attacked her multiple times. The dogs took off again as Thomas was being mauled.

After the attack, Thomas walked 1 1/2 miles back to her truck. She found one of the dogs while walking back and the other dog was waiting at her vehicle. After arriving in the local hospital, Thomas was eventually flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, about 150 miles northwest of Cordova.

Thomas declined a request for an interview with The Associated Press, according to hospital spokesman Mikal Canfield.

Troopers said the trail is now closed for a week. There are no plans to look for the bear.

The attack did not appear to be predatory in nature, according to Peters, who noted the attack was likely prompted by the dogs in an area where salmon have already begun to die.

"The thought process is that the bear was more than likely being irritated by the dogs and also protecting its food source," she said. "So it was a bear being a bear."


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