Polar bear kills woman, young boy in Wales

Troopers identified the victims as a St. Michael mother and her 1-year-old son
Troopers have identified the victims killed in a polar bear attack as a mother and her young son.
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 5:05 PM AKST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2023 at 6:10 PM AKST
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WALES, Alaska (KTUU) - A polar bear attacked and killed two people in Wales, on the western tip of the Seward Peninsula, Tuesday afternoon

Troopers wrote in a dispatch that they received the report at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday involving a woman and a young boy.

Troopers identified the victims Wednesday morning as 24-year-old Summer Myomick, of St. Michael, and her 1-year-old son Clyde Ongtowasruk.

“Initial reports indicate that a polar bear had entered the community and had chased multiple residents,” troopers wrote. “The bear fatally attacked an adult female and juvenile male – it was shot and killed by a local resident as it attacked the pair.”

The attack occurred in the village near the school, troopers said. The two were walking between the clinic and the school when the attack occurred.

Susan Nedza is the Chief School Administrator for the Bering Strait School District which includes the K-12 school in Wales. Nedza said the school’s principal called her while the attack was ongoing just outside the school’s front entrance. Nedza said the principal had already put the school in lockdown and made sure students stayed in an area where they couldn’t see what was going on. The principal told her several school employees went outside to see if they could stop the attack.

“Some of them actually were outside at one point trying to hit the bear with shovels to get it to stop, and it wouldn’t,” said Nedza. “It chased them actually and tried to come into the school when the principal let them in to keep them safe. So it tried to come in and they were able to close the door and keep it outside.”

A short time later, Nedza said, a community member arrived and shot the bear. Nedza said a district plane was able to fly into the community on Wednesday with a school counselor as well as a team from Norton Sound Behavioral Health. The school was closed on Wednesday. Nedza said classes would be canceled Thursday and Friday but the building would remain open for children to use the gym, get a meal or talk with counselors or their teachers.

According to the dispatch, troopers and the Department of Fish and Game were not able to reach the community Tuesday due to poor weather conditions and a lack of runway lights during night hours. Troopers said they hope to arrive Wednesday, assuming weather permits. The remains of both victims will be taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy.

This story has been updated with additional information.