A terrified jogger was mauled by a grizzly bear after surprising it while out running with a co-worker near a popular beauty spot in Alaska.
Gabrielle Markel was pinned down by the adult brown bear which had stepped out of thick brush along a trail near Skilak Lake on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.
The 20-year-old, an employee of a nearby backcountry lodge, tried to use pepper spray to ward the animal off – but suffered bites and scratches to her head, back and arm as the animal held her down.
Her friend, Kaitlyn Haley, 26, of California, escaped injury and ran for help.
The pair were running Tuesday afternoon on the Cottonwood Creek Trail near Upper Skilak Lake.
They were about three-quarters of a mile from the lodge when the mauling happened.
‘They surprised a bear as they were coming around a turn, basically,’ said Tom Timmel, operations manager for Alaska Wildland Adventures, the company that operates the backcountry lodge in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
Markel had pepper spray on her, but everything happened so fast, he said.
‘Gabrielle did have bear spray with her and, I think, even attempted to use it,’ Timmel said. ‘But as it happens in these types of situations, sometimes, it was very quick and the bear was surprised.’
The grizzly quickly put Markel on the ground.
‘Haley ran from the scene back to the lodge for help, the bear was still on top of Markel when Haley last saw her,’ Alaska State Troopers wrote in a web posting.
‘Haley and several other employees ran from the lodge back to the scene of the attack armed with bear spray. As they were advancing up the trail, they saw Markel walking towards them.’
The bear, by that time, ‘was long gone’, Timmel said.
Lodge staff members provided immediate medical care for Markel and called for help, he said.
In consultation with 911 operators, it was determined the best course of action was to take Markel by private watercraft for a 20-minute ride across Skilak Lake to the Upper Skilak Boat Landing, where a medical helicopter met them for the 70-mile trip to Anchorage.
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