Hecla mine reports contract employee killed in fatal bear mauling

Update | 3:22 p.m.

Alaska State Troopers have identified the victim as 18-year-old Anthony David Montoya of Hollis, Oklahoma. In a news release, Hecla said he worked for Timberline Drilling based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Montoya’s body will be sent to the State Medical Examiner in Anchorage.

Troopers also noted more specifics about the bears involved — a sow and two cubs. All three bears were killed before troopers arrived.

This is the second fatal bear incident involving an Alaska mine employee in as many years.  Twenty-seven-year-old contractor Erin Johnson of Anchorage was killed in June 2017 by a black bear at the Pogo Mine in Interior Alaska.

Correction: An earlier version of this update misstated when the Pogo Mine bear mauling occurred. It was June 2017, not June 2018. 

Original story | 12:23 p.m.

Hecla Greens Creek Mine is a major employer in the region.
Hecla Greens Creek Mine. (Photo courtesy Hecla Mining Company)

Hecla Greens Creek Mine says bears fatally mauled a contract employee at their mine Monday.

Company officials have not identified the employee, pending family notifications. In a news release, Hecla said the incident occurred at a remote drill site on Admiralty Island above ground. The area is only accessible by helicopter.

Hecla said authorities will investigate. Around 11:45 a.m. Monday, company spokesman Mike Satre said state troopers were en route. Satre said the company is investigating and still learning details about what happened.

“We have never had any injury incident related to bears since we have been in operation,” he noted.

The mine opened in 1989.

Satre said bear safety is a standard part of employee training.

“In general, every single one of our employees and our contracted workforce receive bear hazard training during their site-specific training that is required before they work on a mine site,” he said. “Then we do everything we can to make sure anything that we do, any of our materials, do not become attractive to bears and have them on our mine site.”

Mine officials expressed condolences to the victim’s friends, family and colleagues.

Jeremy Hsieh

Local News Reporter, KTOO

I dig into questions about the forces and institutions that shape Juneau, big and small, delightful and outrageous. What stirs you up about how Juneau is built and how the city works?

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