Alex Ippoliti said he and his friend, James Fredrick, were riding along a gravel road on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, a U.S. military facility in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday morning when they heard a rustling sound coming from the woods nearby. Ippoliti said the two kept moving, but the bear went for Frederick.
The bear “came out of nowhere and pulled him off his bike,” Ippoliti told ABC News.
Ippoliti, a member of the Air Force who was on base that day as part of a recreation program, said he knew he had to think fast in order to save his friend’s life.
“When she dropped him, she turned toward me and I was able to spray the bear,” he said.
The bear scampered back into the undergrowth and Ippoliti called 911. He then worked with Fredrick to stop the bleeding while they waited for help to arrive.
The pair had taken all of the appropriate precautions while traveling along the road, Ippoliti said, and although he has biked in the area many times, he had never encountered a brown bear before.
“We had bear bells on and there was a lot of visibility on the gravel road as we were coming down,” Ippoliti said. “We didn’t see the bear until she attacked. I had bear spray in a pack on my bike and it was very easy to get it from there, fortunately.”
It’s a relief to see the two men avoid massive tragedy, which has become a familiar sad narrative this month in Alaska.