A Slana man was visiting a friend’s home Tuesday afternoon when Alaska State Troopers say he was suddenly attacked by an adult grizzly bear.
The attack left the man -- identified by troopers as 66-year-old Andre Siegenthaler -- severely injured following the attack. Siegenthaler's friend Ed Bullock, who had bought nails which Siegenthaler was stopping by to pick up, says the attack apparently occurred at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“The bear attacked with no warning from behind a spruce tree, and even though Andre was carrying bear spray, the attack happened faster than Andre could react,” Bullock said. “Within two bounds the bear was on Andre.”
Bullock gathered the information from Siegenthaler’s wife Briggita, who was with Siegenthaler after the attack occurred.
According to Briggita’s account of the attack, Siegenthaler “suffered bites to his right hip area, both shoulders and arms; his left cheek was torn open, right ear mangled and nerve damage to the right cheek.”
Several neighbors in the area were called and came to Siegenthaler’s aid, Bullock said.
“(The Siegenthalers) live across the Slana River, so getting out to it is pretty restricted,” Bullock said.
Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Beth Ipsen confirmed that the attack had occurred, but says troopers didn’t respond to the incident and have no firsthand information about what happened.
“The only thing we did with it was correspond medical response,” Ipsen said. “We believe (Siegenthaler suffered) serious but non-life-threatening injuries.”
Bullock has lived in the Slana area for 17 years. His homestead is located very close to the Siegenthalers’ homestead; while bears are in the area, Bullock says he wasn't attacked.
After the bear broke off from the attack, despite his injuries, Siegenthaler managed to walk the 900 yards back to his homestead, bleeding, Bullock said, and alert Briggita, who in turn called 911.
Siegenthaler was eventually medevaced to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center at about 6 p.m. He is reportedly listed in stable condition.
Ipsen says state officials have no plans to locate or track the bear.
Channel 2's Chris Klint contributed information to this story.