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Grizzly mauls Alaska pastor; 6 hours of surgery required

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (BP)–Longtime Alaska pastor Johnny McCoy is recovering at a Fairbanks hospital after being mauled by a grizzly bear Sept. 4.

McCoy, 52, pastor of First Baptist Church, North Pole, underwent more than six hours of surgery Sept. 4 for multiple injuries he sustained after he and a hunting partner, church deacon Cary Corle, happened upon a female grizzly bear protective of her two cubs.

The bear knocked over Corle then attacked McCoy.

McCoy’s injuries — from numerous bites to his head, both arms and hands — included a nearly severed right ear, a left eye dislodged from its socket, a rip to his forehead open enough to show his skull, two compound fractures of his right arm and a broken left wrist.

Corle, who shot at the bear to scare it away, assisted McCoy over a three-mile stretch to a camp where they could call for assistance. A Blackhawk helicopter with Fort Wainwright’s 68th Medical Company Air Ambulance was dispatched to transport McCoy to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. Two civilian pilots helped the helicopter crew locate the camp located 40 miles west of Delta Junction.

McCoy has ministered nearly 30 years at the North Pole church, serving as pastor since 1982. He is a trustee of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board and delivered the annual sermon at this year’s Alaska Baptist Convention annual meeting.

The church has asked that calls about McCoy’s recovery be placed to the church office, at (907) 488-2240, instead of the Fairbanks hospital.

“He had been attacked pretty good,” a helicopter crew member told the News Miner newspaper in Fairbanks. “[McCoy] was tough, he did really well. He was a trooper.”