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Alaskan woman, mauled by bear, walks to truck and drives to hospital

By Steve Quinn

JUNEAU Alaska (Reuters) - A 57-year-old Alaskan hiker survived after being mauled by a brown bear on a wilderness trail, walking more than a mile to her truck and driving to hospital after the attack, state police reported on Wednesday.

Thea Thomas was hiking on Tuesday along the Heney Ridge Trail in Cordova, a remote and sparsely populated coastal fishing community southeast of Anchorage, near a stream in which salmon were spawning when two dogs she had with her ran ahead.

The dogs soon sprinted back to her chased by a bear, which she estimated to be between 6 to 7 feet, reared on its hind legs. She told the Alaska Dispatch News she was bitten about seven times, the worst to her back and inner thigh.

"I started to hear this growling," Thomas told the newspaper from an Anchorage hospital where she had been airlifted on Wednesday. "By the end, I was thinking, 'I could die here'."

Thomas returned to her truck, some 1.5 miles away, after the attack, according to a report by Alaska State Troopers.

(Reporting by Steve Quinn in Juneau, Alaska; Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Paul Tait)

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