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Charlestown man mauled by bear

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — John O. Matson Jr., 46, of Charlestown, was lucky to be alive after he was mauled by a grizzly bear during a hunt 50 miles west of the town of McGrath.

“He’s doing well and he is out of surgery,” his father, John O. Matson Sr. of Hopkinton, said today. “I received a text at 5:45 a.m. saying he was in his hospital room resting.”

Because of weather conditions, a helicopter to evacuate Matson after the attack on Monday was not able to reach him for 20 hours. The hunter suffered injuries to his head and body.

“They saved his life. They stopped the bleeding,” Matson Sr. said of his son’s two hunting partners, who included Steve Persson of Charlestown, who he said is a registered guide. “He was in the middle of nowhere.”

McGrath is about 225 miles northwest of Anchorage. Matson was taken to McGrath, and then put on a medical transport flight to Anchorage.

During the hunt, Matson shot the grizzly, which ran off.

The Alaskan State Troopers said Matson then went to look for the bear and he was attacked when he was in high brush.

Matson Sr. said that his son “is a lucky boy” because the other members of the party were within 20 yards of each other.

“If they were any further apart they wouldn’t have gotten to him in time,” he said. “The bear closed the distance quickly and took the gun out of his (son’s) hands after he got off one shot.”

Matson Sr. said he believed that the other hunters in the party shot at the bear while it was attacking his son and drove it off.

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