'Beautiful and compassionate', family describes Anchorage woman killed by a bear
She was beautiful and compassionate who lived her brief 27 years to the fullest.
Erin Johnson was attacked and killed by a black bear near Pogo Mine while doing field work on Monday.
“I broke my back seven years ago and she was one of the first people that went Nordic and alpine skiing with me,” said Ira Edwards, friend of Johnson.
Johnson was just that type of person, a caring and kind friend who loved to be outdoors.
“She was super nice and she was probably as outdoorsy as any of the guys I know,” said Edwards.
Johnson graduated from Chugiak High School where she was a talented athlete. She represented the United States as a member of the Junior Olympic Nordic Ski Team in 2006 and 2007, the family said in a statement.
Johnson went to the University of Montana and University of Alaska Anchorage to become a geologist and botanist, her family says she had a deep appreciation for the nature she loved to explore.
On Monday, Johnson and co-worker Ellen Trainor were collecting geological samples as employees at ABR about five miles from Pogo Mine when a black bear attacked.
Trainor was able to deploy bear spray when the bear attacked her; she was rescued by a mine helicopter after calling for help on a radio.
Johnson was killed.
Another mine employee returned to the scene and shot and killed the bear with a rifle.
Just two weeks before Johnson had gotten married.
"Erin's wonderful energy, quirky sense of humor, dedication, sparkle, generosity, and talent touched everyone she knew, and left them all the better,” Erin’s family said in a statement.
It was the second of two fatal black bear attacks in the span of 24 hours in Alaska.
The Department of Fish and Game are investigating the maulings to determine whether they were predatory in nature.
FULL JOHNSON FAMILY STATEMENT: