Lewiston lawyer awaiting jaw surgery, making progress after polar bear attack

Pine Tree Legal lawyer Matt Dyer
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal
Pine Tree Legal lawyer Matt Dyer
Posted Aug. 09, 2013, at 8:28 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 09, 2013, at 10:08 a.m.

LEWISTON, Maine — Lewiston attorney Matt Dyer is awaiting surgery on his jaw and is eager to get home, according to his wife.

Dyer was attacked by a polar bear while hiking in a Canadian wildlife park and is recovering in Montreal General Hospital.

In an email to the Sun Journal on Thursday, his wife, Jeanne Wells, said the surgery could be completed as early as Friday.

“But if an emergency surgery comes up, he’ll get bumped to the weekend or early next week,” she wrote. “He’s doing really (well) and is impatient to get home. Hopefully it won’t be long now.”

Dyer was hiking in the Torngat National Park on the northern tip of Newfoundland on July 24 with a guided group. The attack occurred at about 1:30 a.m. while the group slept behind an electrified fence designed to repel polar bears.

Members of Dyer’s hiking group were able to contact Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Parks Canada officials at about 6 a.m. A helicopter stationed at Saglek Fjord, about an hour’s flight away, took Dyer to a trauma clinic at George River, Quebec. He was later transferred to Montreal General Hospital.

Dyer came out of the hospital’s intensive care unit on Aug. 2. He has a temporary tracheotomy tube in his throat with a speaking valve attached. That tube is expected to stay in place until after the jaw surgery.

Established in 2005, Torngat National Park is a 3,700-square-mile Canadian National Park in the Northern Labrador Mountains in Newfoundland. The mountains are the highest Canadian peaks east of the Rockies and, according to Parks Canada, are home to seal-hunting polar bears, caribou and remnant glaciers.

Dyer is known in Maine as an expert in housing and tenant legal issues. He’s the lead attorney at Pine Tree Legal’s Lewiston office and represents many low-income and handicapped residents pro-bono.

Wells said she has fielded many requests for the hospital’s address from well-wishers hoping to send flowers to Dyer. She asked that people instead make donations to Pine Tree Legal or to The Center for Wisdom’s Women in Lewiston. Dyer sits on that group’s board of directors.

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