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Huntington Teen Tells Of Alaska Bear Attack Horror, Heroism

Sam Melman Describes Encounter He And 6 Others Had With Grizzly
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Sam Melman (credit: Sophia Hall/WCBS 880)

Sam Melman (credit: Sophia Hall/WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Among the four teens to return to their hometowns following a brutal grizzly bear attack in Alaska was 17-year-old Sam Melman of Huntington, New York.

Melman landed at LaGuardia Airport on Wednesday before heading home. He was one of seven wilderness survival students who survived the attack in the Talkeetna Mountains on Saturday night.

While speaking with reporters, Melman turned very serious as he described the attack that left his friends injured.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall Hears From Sam Melman

“This is a mother with a cub so it was a little more angry than most. It charged every single one of us,” Melman said.

Melman said he helped provide first aid to those who were bitten and scratched by the bear.

“The first aid kit ran out in about 10 seconds. We started using our clothes to bandage the wounds, so after about 10 minutes, I lost most of my clothes because I was trying to cover the bleeding with it,” he said.

On Wednesday night CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey caught up with Melman at his home.

“I had a nightmare about it one night, but I didn’t think it would actually happen,” Melman said. “[The bear] stood up at one point and it was about 8 to 9 feet tall. It was just terrifying.”

Josh Berg of New City remained in fair condition Wednesday at a hospital in Alaska. Melman described in detail what happened to his friend, saying Berg was at the front of the hiking line when the chaos started.

“He screamed ‘bear! Bear!,” Melman said.

But before Berg could move, the grizzly was on top of him.

“He clawed and bit him in the head, essentially, and then also clawed him in the sides. He was just completely torn apart by him,” Melman said.

Melman said the grizzly then set its sights on Colorado’s Sam Gottsegan, who screamed for his life.

“You know these primal screams that won’t ever leave your head? It was terrifying,” Melman said.

Melman escaped the bear’s wrath and when the coast was clear, he and Sam Boas of Connecticut put their medical training to work, stabilizing Berg and Gottsegan, the two most critically hurt.

The seven teens were rescued and taken to the hospital. Gottsegan is being treated for chest wounds while Berg suffered massive facial and head wounds, but was still able to speak to his fellow New Yorker.

“He was just telling me ‘thank you guys so much’. He was very grateful,” Melman said.

Melman said he is glad to be home in Huntington with his parents and is now more appreciative of life.

“When you’re staring death in the eye it really can make you think afterward just how important life is,” he said.

Melman received some of his medical training from Long Island’s Good Samaritan Hospital, where he volunteers. On Thursday the hospital will give him a community service award for what he did to help save two lives.

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