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How a quick-moving father saved his son when a bear attacked

Posted at 8:11 AM, Jun 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-11 08:11:30-04

ASHVILLE, North Carolina -- The Ohio teenager who survived a vicious bear attack over the weekend is expected to be released from an Ashville, North Carolina hospital Thursday.  Gabriel Alexander, 16, was on a 50-mile backpacking trip in the Great Smoky Mountains with his father when he was attacked Saturday.

"I was just in my sleeping bag and then I just wake up to this pain in my scalp as I get drug out of my hammock," Alexander told North Carolina television station WLOS. "I immediately started screaming and it was pulling at my scalp. I didn't know what it was. I thought maybe a wild dog or something, and I kept screaming."

His father, who was sleeping in a hammock a few feet away, heard the screams and rushed to help his son.

"He ran up and he screamed at it and then kicked it in its face with his bare feet and it still didn't get off," Alexander said.

After a few minutes, the father and son were able to escape and hike to safety. During the hike back, the father and son met other hikers who helped get them out of the woods.

"I'm really grateful to those guys that helped us across the lake and to all the emergency responders," Alexander said.

National Park rangers were able to track down the bear who attacked the teenager. The bear was euthanized.

"It's not any kind of relief to me that it's dead,"Alexander said. He added he was curious what caused the bear to attack in the first place.

Despite his brush with death, Alexander said he wanted to make sure other knew how rare bear attacks like this were and does not want anyone to be too scared to hike or camp at that national park.