L.I. Teen Talks About His Bear Attack "Nightmare"

By Pei-Sze Cheng
|  Thursday, Jul 28, 2011  |  Updated 8:25 AM EDT
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Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

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Teens Attacked by Bear: "Terrifying" Experience

Two of the local teens who were part of a group attacked by a bear in Alaska Saturday are speaking out. As they tell their harrowing tale, one of their friends -- another area teen -- remains in serious condition.
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Sam Melman is relieved to be back at his Long Island, home with his parents. The 17-year-old was at the end of a 30-day trek into the Alaskan wilderness when he and six other teens found themselves face to face with a bear and her cub.

"Two things went on in my head," Melman told NBC New York. "First I thought, 'This must be a nightmare. I'm going to wake up and this is all going to end.'"

"The second thing was helplessness," he added. "There isn't much you can do when your friends are being attacked by a bear."

Melman was far enough away from the grizzly bear that he was able to run up a hill for safety, but his friends were not so lucky

Sam Gottsegen of Denver is still in a hospital in Anchorage, Alaska, recovering from this bear attack. Gottsegen and Josh Berg, of New City, N.Y., were closest to the bear and the most severely hurt.

"I can remember the moment when it bit down on my head," said Gottsegen.  "I kept saying I'm going to die, I'm going to die, I'm going to die."

Gottsegen suffered bite wounds, broken ribs and a punctured lung. The other teens in the group helped apply First Aid until rescuers arrived, and that might have saved him.

Melman, who was trained in First Aid because of his volunteer work at a hospital, was able to help stabilize both teens.

"We used plastic and tape to help stop the bleeding, and then we checked for vitals, and made sure they did not have any brain damage," he said.

A rescue beacon was set off, and seven hours later, a helicopter finally came to their rescue.

"The annoying hum of that helicopter was the most welcome sound I've ever heard, " joked Melman.

Gottsegen is on the mend, and Berg has been upgraded to fair condition.  While the teens live in different parts of the country, they believe this near-death experience will bond them forever. 

Sam Boas of Westport, Conn. was able to walk away from this incident unharmed.

"I think we're more than really good friends, we've been through something that I don't think anybody can say they've been through, we have a connection that goes beyond words," he said.

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