ANCHORAGE, Alaska – An Oklahoma community is mourning the loss of one of their own who was fatally mauled by a bear and two cubs near a southeast Alaska mine.
Alaska State Troopers identified the victim as 18-year-old Anthony David Montoya of Hollis, Oklahoma.
Family friend Kimberly Bell, whose daughter grew up with Montoya, said he was always smiling and could make anybody laugh.
“When Shark Bait walked in, you knew it’s fixin’ to be crazy,” she said. “He’s gonna do something silly to make somebody laugh.”
Montoya was often called Shark Bait because he was known as the small guy on the football team.
“The football guys, he was the small one,” Bell told KTUU. “And it was so funny when he’d get out on the field. He didn’t get a lot of playin’ time, but when he did, all the big guys surrounded him, you know, nobody could touch Shark Bait.”
Montoya had just graduated in May and moved to Alaska for a new adventure. He was a contract employee for Hecla Greens Creek Mine. The mine reported the incident Monday occurred at a remote drill site accessible only by helicopter.
“We were so excited that he was able to find a job and get to start working in something that he was really excited about,” Bell said.
The incident occurred near the silver mine on Admiralty Island about 18 miles southwest of Juneau.
“It’s really devastating for all of us,” Bell said. “I mean, he just graduated five months ago. And his birthday, he was fixin’ to be 19 Oct. 8th.”
Bell says Montoy overcame many obstacles, including the passing of his mother in June 2017, and that he was always brave despite any hardships.
“He just had to overcome a bunch of obstacles, and not once would you ever, ever have known that,” Bell said. “We are blessed to have been able to have him in our lives. And we’re better off for that.”