April 26, 2018
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Pine Tree lawyer awake, alert after polar bear attack

Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal
Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal
Pine Tree Legal lawyer Matt Dyer addresses a packed Lewiston City Council Chambers in June during a meeting called by Mayor Robert Macdonald to talk to landlords about housing issues.
By Scott Taylor, Sun Journal

LEWISTON, Maine — Attorney Matt Dyer is awake, alert and able to communicate despite severe neck injuries he suffered in a Wednesday morning polar bear attack, according to wife Jeanne Wells.

In an email to the Sun Journal, Wells said the Pine Tree Legal attorney is still immobilized by his injuries, but is improving every day.

“He has a broken jaw and a temporary breathing tube to ensure that his airway stays open despite all the swelling in his neck area, which prevent him from talking at this point,” Wells wrote. “His neck is still immobilized, to ensure that the fractures remain stable.”

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

Parks Canada officials said Friday they were investigating to determine if the portable electrified fence was working properly.

Torngat National Park is a 3,700-square-mile Canadian national park located on the northern Labrador Mountains in Newfoundland. These 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. The park was established in 2005.

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

Wells said she learned of the attack Wednesday afternoon and flew to Montreal to be with her husband. Both husband and wife arrived at the hospital at about midnight.

The rest of the group took a boat from the Labrador coast and arrived in Montreal on Saturday, Wells said. They visited him in the hospital Saturday night.

She said her husband is recovering quickly and receiving the best of medical care.

“His sense of humor is intact, and his gratitude to all who have sent love and good wishes is great,” Wells wrote. “Both of us want to thank everyone for their kindnesses.”

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.

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