NEW CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — He was nearly killed by a grizzly bear.
For the first time we’re hearing from the Rockland County teenager who was mauled in Alaska. As CBS 2′s Mark Morgan reports, Josh Berg is finally home from the hospital.
“You just have to live every day as if it was your last I guess,” Berg said Friday.
Berg said he knows how fortunate he is. In late July, the 17-year-old and New City native was part of a hiking group that was attacked by a grizzly bear in Alaska. Josh was the first to be mauled.
“I turned around and started screaming and within seconds it was just … it was on me. I remember my skull cracking. I remember that being a very distinct sound,” Berg said.
“The bear actually took a break for a second, and I thought I was OK. Then he came back and bit my neck.”
Berg credits his friend, 16-year-old Sam Boas of Westport, Conn., with saving his life. Boas, using his training as an emergency medical responder, helped control the bleeding and stabilized Berg until rescuers arrived.
“I think it was a group effort,” Boas said when asked if saved his friend’s life. “I wouldn’t say yes or no. As a joint effort, I think we definitely did, yeah.”
Berg was conscious from the time of the attack until he made it to the hospital hours later. He said the mental toll was overwhelming.
When asked if he had doubts that he’d would make it, Berg told Morgan, “Yeah, I definitely did — and I accepted dying.”
Berg underwent eight hours of extensive surgery to repair his fractured skull and lacerations to both his legs. His physical scars are evident and will remain, but he said he’s thrilled to be back home with his family, adding you must embrace every day.
“Because you don’t really know when, you know, your time is due, and I came extremely close to that,” Josh Berg said.
Liz Berg describes her son as the eternal optimist, and now he has a lot to be optimistic about. Despite his harrowing ordeal, Josh is scheduled to start his senior year of high school — on time on Sept. 6. He is also one of two student representatives on the local school board, and on Thursday night he attended his first board meeting since coming home.
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