Bear Attack: The Story of Seven Boys and One Grizzly | Reader's Digest

Bear Attack: The Story of Seven Boys and One Grizzly

Seven high school students were near the end of their month-long survival course in the Alaskan wilderness, but the real schooling began when they came face to snout with the wildest thing of all.

By Derek Burnett from Reader's Digest Magazine | June 2012

Bear Attack: The Story of Seven Boys and One GrizzlyIllustration by Yuko Shimizu
At a shallow pool in a nameless creek, deep in the Alaskan wilderness, seven boys are laughing and lunging and splashing as they try to haze a pair of beleaguered little fish into their mosquito nets. Fishing is not allowed, but they took leave of their instructors several hours ago and are having their Lord of the Flies moment of fun.

Have a look at them: Joshua Berg, 17, from New City, New York, the group’s elected leader and most experienced outdoorsman. Noah Allaire, 16, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, a lifeguard and gifted student who skipped two grades in school and will be starting college in the fall. Sam Gottsegen, 17—“Gottsy” to the group—from Denver, avid snowboarder, affable and laid-back. Sam Melman, 17, a volunteer in a New York hospital’s intensive care unit. Victor Martin, 18, a muscular basketball player from a tough part of Richmond, California. Shane Garlock, 16, from Pittsford, New York, photographer and cross-country runner. And Sam Boas, 16, from Westport, Connecticut, ardent cook and certified emergency medical responder.

They are students of the prestigious National Outdoor Leadership School on a month-long course during summer vacation from high school. It’s 7:30 in the evening on July 23, 2011, and they’ve spent the past 24 days backpacking through the rugged western Talkeetna Mountains with three instructors, learning leadership and outdoor skills, including first aid. They’re now about 40 miles northeast of the nearest town, Talkeetna, separated from any sign of human habitation by miles of rough, trackless country. This is the last leg of the trip, when the students are cut loose to find their own way to a train track 24 miles away, where they will rendezvous with their instructors in three days. Until then, they have no way of communicating with their instructors or with the outside world. They are truly alone. Earlier today, just before the boys set out, one of the instructors looked at them and, grinning, left them with this advice: “Don’t die.”

  • Your Comments

    • Ykthungblimbu

      its really fatabuiias

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jessica-Grant/100003284987373 Jessica Grant

      About this grizzly story, the camp counselor ignored one important rule about going into the wilderness. Never go into the wilderness without a rifle& ammo. if even one adult had a rifle & knew how to use it he could have shot that bear & rescued those boys from this grizzly attack. so my comment to them BONEHEADS NEVER GO INTO THE WILDERNESS WITHOUT A RIFLE!  

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Barry-Soetoro/100004210471286 Barry Soetoro

        But,but guns are bad–just ask Obummer.

    • Mary Harvey

      This is one of the best articles I have ever read and describes not only the horrendous details, but the strength and courage that the young men had to muster.   My hats are off to Readers Digest for printing the article for us to interrelate to the victims.   This is something that could happen to any of our family that may go on an “adventure”.    Thanks again.      Mary Harvey

    • Mary Harvey

      This is one of the best articles I have ever read and describes not only the horrendous details, but the strength and courage that the young men had to muster.   My hats are off to Readers Digest for printing the article for us to interrelate to the victims.   This is something that could happen to any of our family that may go on an “adventure”.    Thanks again.      Mary Harvey

      • Anonymous

        This is one of the best articles you’ve ever read?  It has almost no details about who these people were.

        • Matthew Gregory

          I hardly care about who they were, because before this im sure they were the same as any other boy or girl in their school , its a situation that requires heroics and apptitude that drills you into who you will be immediately after the situation. Sure they had lives before the bear attack but it was the attack that allowed them to forget their ordinary mundane high school lives and act in that moment focused as human as human can be not some type of personality society drills into you, there is a reason afterall they took the course, to learn how to survive outside of rapid telephone communication, immediate transport and direct 911 call access, in other word the opposite of what our modern nations tell us and teach us.

    • http://www.facebook.com/TonyDahlinVenice Tony DahlinVenice

      Hmm… Recently,
      I saw a tag on a baby stroller at Wal-Mart,  ”Caution: remove child
      before folding carriage!” Maybe, they need to put a tattoo on these kids
      foreheads: “Caution: always carry a gun in bear territory!”
      Furthermore, the news recently (about two years ago) A husband-and-wife team
      videotaping their activities with their interaction with bears, were then eaten
      while their video camera recorded the whole horrific event. Don’t they
      have television or newspapers in Alaska?  Internet? Tony Dahlin Venice

    • http://www.facebook.com/TonyDahlinVenice Tony DahlinVenice

      Hmm… Recently,
      I saw a tag on a baby stroller at Wal-Mart,  ”Caution: remove child
      before folding carriage!” Maybe, they need to put a tattoo on these kids
      foreheads: “Caution: always carry a gun in bear territory!”
      Furthermore, the news recently (about two years ago) A husband-and-wife team
      videotaping their activities with their interaction with bears, were then eaten
      while their video camera recorded the whole horrific event. Don’t they
      have television or newspapers in Alaska?  Internet? Tony Dahlin Venice

      • Suzycreamcheese

        If you mean Timothy Treadwell, it was his girlfriend.  They weren’t married.  The park services begged him to leave the bears alone.  Because of him, two of them were shot.

      • Suzycreamcheese

        If you mean Timothy Treadwell, it was his girlfriend.  They weren’t married.  The park services begged him to leave the bears alone.  Because of him, two of them were shot.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Barry-Soetoro/100004210471286 Barry Soetoro

          Ole Timmy had a secret desire to become bear s hit and he did.

      • rescue member

        From the story I read the boys would not have had time to use a gun. And if they had used one the outcome might have been worst. I thought that this was a great article of a group of young men that survived and were tested on the survival and leadership skills that they had been taught. even though the test was delivered in such a terrable way. I think that most outdoors/woodsmen might not have faired so well

      • Aacon3

        The video camera was on in a backpack.It did not record the attack or the  husband and wife being eaten.Only the husband was partially eaten as well,not the wife.Only audio was gotten and the ones who found them were not sure if the bear they killed was responsible,that it could have fed off them after they were killed.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Barry-Soetoro/100004210471286 Barry Soetoro

        The outfit they were with “doesn’t allow firearms”–they prefer their customers become Bear S HIT instead of being able to protect themselves.

    • http://www.facebook.com/TonyDahlinVenice Tony DahlinVenice

      Hmm… Recently,
      I saw a tag on a baby stroller at Wal-Mart,  ”Caution: remove child
      before folding carriage!” Maybe, they need to put a tattoo on these kids
      foreheads: “Caution: always carry a gun in bear territory!”
      Furthermore, the news recently (about two years ago) A husband-and-wife team
      videotaping their activities with their interaction with bears, were then eaten
      while their video camera recorded the whole horrific event. Don’t they
      have television or newspapers in Alaska?  Internet? Tony Dahlin Venice

    • Kingeq0127

      I thought that this was one of the best Reader Digest issues yet!! ..I loved all your articles, the one about the Brown Bear was a tribute to our sense of survival and team work, but I also loved the article about ‘That’s Outragous! Escpecially the part about the ‘Fear People’…but I love the ‘Your Are Welcome Amercia, Now Hire us’!!! , like I said this is one of your best edititions, yet!!!
      Thank you Readers Digest!! 

    • Piohawk

      I have always loved reading the reader’s digest, I thought it had gone out of business. However I have so many medical bills to pay, that this will interfere with. I will think about this offer. I read all you had to temp me with.

    • Piohawk

      I have always loved reading the reader’s digest, I thought it had gone out of business. However I have so many medical bills to pay, that this will interfere with. I will think about this offer. I read all you had to temp me with.