Survivor of a bear attack on JBER shares her story

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by Whitney LB Miller

ANCHORAGE - The victim of a recent bear attack on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is speaking out after the life threatening ordeal.

Jessica Gamboa is still recovering from her injuries. Initially she wanted to conceal her identity, but recently decided to speak out tonight because of the attention the incident has generated in Alaska and across the United States.

Gamboa says it was prayer that gave her the strength to stand up after being attacked by the bear on base more on May 18.

She and her husband were on a quick run through a trail near the Davis highway training for a half marathon. Gamboa says she was excited to break in a new pair of running shoes.

"I looked over to him and said are you ready," said Gamboa. "Then we both started running."

The two had been running in tandem for only a short while when their pace split them up. Just 20 minutes in Jessica noticed a small cub on the trail.

"Immediatly my thoughts were, where is the mama bear?" said Gamboa.

Gamboa says she was completely surprised, she quickly realized that she didn't really know what to do.

She decided to put her hands out in front of her to show she meant no harm.
What happened next Jessica says was a blur; she remembers being knocked down and carried by the sow across the street into an embankment.

After being attacked she says she started praying. Praying for the strength to get up and walk to a place where she could be more visible.

"I felt beat to death, there was blood everywhere... I was in bad shape,"said Gamboa.

As prayer would have it Sgt. Collin Gillikin, a medic in the army just so happened to be driving down the highway just minutes after the attack.

"It boosted my faith from her end to know that she ran into someone with 6 years in the trauma field...and to come out of that in a good way," said Gillikin.

The medic says at first he thought she just had mud on her body but as he got closer he realized she was bleeding. Once he got out of his car and assessed her injuries he decided the best action was to take her straight to the hospital.

"She just looked at me and said I just got attacked by a bear I couldn't believe she was still standing," said Gamboa.

Gillikin says had he not been late for his fishing trip that morning he might have missed Jessica's cry for help.

He believes it was pure fate that brought the two together that day