No witnesses in fatal Southeast Alaska bear mauling
Alaska State Troopers say the Oklahoma man fatally mauled Monday by brown bears in Southeast Alaska had stepped away from a group of people just before he was killed.
Troopers named the deceased Monday afternoon as 18-year-old Anthony David Montoya of Hollis, Okla. His next of kin have been notified.
"Montoya was mauled by a sow and two cubs," troopers wrote. "All three bears were killed prior to troopers arriving on scene."
Word of the mauling, near the Greens Creek Mine on Admiralty Island, reached troopers at about 8:45 a.m. Monday. Mine officials said in a statement that the incident took place at "a remote drill site on the surface of the mine property that can only be accessed by helicopter."
On Tuesday, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said Montoya had been with a group of people on the day of the mauling.
"Montoya walked away from the group to go to a water pump site, [approximately] 35 yards away," Peters wrote in an email. "Even though the apparent mauling was nearby, it was not witnessed. The site is reportedly noisy."
Montoya reportedly had bear spray, but it wasn't found after the attack.
"He had been gone for a while and another worker noticed Montoya’s long absence," Peters wrote. "They went to look for Montoya and came upon the bears and Montoya."
The rest of the group called for medics, Peters said, and people at the scene were able to kill the bears.
Ken Marsh, with the state Department of Fish and Game said after the bears were killed, biologists found evidence that all three had fed on the victim. Since there were no witnesses, it couldn't be determined whether the mauling was a defensive or surprise incident -- in which the bears were startled at close range -- or a predatory mauling in which the bears had targeted Montoya.
A Monday statement from the mine said Montoya was a contracted employee of the mine. Its general manager, Keith Malone, expressed condolences to Montoya's family and colleagues.
Manny Creech, Lauren Maxwell and Mary Simton contributed information to this story.
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