A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued a survivor of a bear attack after spotting his SOS sign on top of a shack at a remote mining camp in Alaska, according to the agency. The man told the aircrew the bear harassed him nightly for several days after the attack.
The crew spotted the man while flying from Kotzebue, Alaska, to Nome last Friday, the Coast Guard said in a statement Tuesday. Near Nome, the crew saw the SOS sign and the man waving his hands.
The crew landed and assessed the man. The Coast Guard said he appeared to have suffered a leg injury and a bruised torso.
The Coast Guard didn’t identify the man, but his rescuers told the New York Times he was in his late 50s or early 60s.
“At some point, a bear had dragged him down to the river,” Lieutenant Commander Jared Carbajal, one of the helicopter pilots, told the newspaper.
Carbajal told the Times the man had a pistol and he said he hadn’t slept in a few days. By the time he was rescued, the man only had two rounds of ammunition left, Petty Officer First Class Ali Blackburn, a Coast Guard spokeswoman, told the paper.
The crew transported the man to Nome for treatment. Carbajal told the paper the crew wouldn’t have spotted him if their flight path hadn’t gone by the camp.
“If we would have been in the next river valley over,” he said, “we would have totally missed him.”