The victim was part of a group ascending a mountain during a backcountry ski outing near Haines, Alaska, on Saturday, according to the US Coast Guard. The man suffered injuries to his head and hands when he was attacked.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game said the victim inadvertently awoke the brown bear in a den, a mother that was likely protecting her cub.
“The skier who was attacked at some point realized he should play dead, which is probably a good idea in this type of circumstance,” state wildlife biologist Carl Koch told CNN.
A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Sitka located the man and two other skiers about 10 miles northwest of Haines at an elevation of 1,600 feet, according to the Coast Guard.
A Coast Guard rescue swimmer was lowered to evaluate the man’s condition and then used a litter to hoist the man to the helicopter. He was flown to Juneau for treatment.
The man was alert at the time of the rescue, but the Coast Guard did not have any further information about his condition. The other two skiers were able to give him first aid and contact the Coast Guard.
“Their satellite communication device provided the precise GPS coordinates and elevation of their location,” said co-pilot Lt. Cmdr. Will Sirokman. “Equally important, they had brightly colored fabric to signal the helicopter as we approached. This was absolutely crucial to us finding them in a timely manner.”
The other two skiers did not need assistance and continued down the mountain on their own, according to the Coast Guard.