Summer Myomick shielded her child with a blanket from the arctic winds coming off the Bering Sea before stepping outside into a snowstorm. The young mother could barely have noticed where she was heading, the fear that was approaching—as it was only a short distance from the school where she had visited relatives to the health clinic, which was only 150 yards (137 meters) away.
Myomick, 24, and her 1-year-old son Clyde Ongtowasruk made it just through the front of the Kingikmiut School in Wales, Alaska, which is located just below the Arctic Circle, when a polar bear attacked them on Tuesday. In Alaska, the only state in the United States where polar bears are found, it was the first deadly polar bear attack in thirty years.
The principal issued a lockdown as the incident progressed and shut the curtains to prevent the kids from seeing what was occurring outside the door. In order to try to scare the bear away with shovels, many workers and citizens of the neighborhood fled the protection of the building.
Only when the beast turned on them and they fled back inside did the mauling temporarily stop. According to Susan Nedza, chief executive officer of the Bering Strait School District, principal Dawn Hendrickson closed the door in the face of the oncoming bear, possibly sparing lives.
Approximately 250 miles (400 kilometers) away in Unalakleet, Nedza received panicked calls about the incident. The polar bear was after them and wanted to get in as well, he recalled. Just horrifying. An experience you never think you’ll have.
Wales has no legal enforcement, so while the bear was still outside, a request for assistance was made among the locals. The bear was still mauling Myomick and her son when an unidentified person with a gun appeared and shot it.
Low visibility appears to have prevented the mother and toddler from recognizing what was approaching, Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Austin McDaniel told The Associated Press on Thursday.
According to a post on a GoFundMe page created to support the family, in the midst of unspeakable loss and heartbreak, the immediate family was staying at the school while they fixed electrical problems in their home.
In this time of great sorrow, we ask that you respect their right to privacy, the post stated.
With only 50 miles (80 kilometers) separating it from Russia across the Bering Strait, Wales is the westernmost hamlet on the North American mainland. It is home to roughly 150 people, practically all of whom are Inupiat. It can be reached by both air and water, including barges that transport household products. Snowmobile access to other settlements and areas for subsistence hunting is made possible by winter paths.
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