'Into the Wild': Gordon Samel, Involved in Real-Life Story, Killed

Friday, 14 Mar 2014 03:32 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Moose hunter Gordon Samel, who was involved in the real-life “Into the Wild” story, was shot and killed by police after a chase Sunday.

Jon Krakrauer's 1996 book "Into the Wild" was the survival story of Christopher McCandless, which was also made into a movie in 2007. Samel, 52, was the one who discovered McCandless' body.

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Samel had been arrested in September for driving under the influence, and police suspected he was again driving drunk when he got involved in a police chase Sunday in Wasilla, Alaska, Outside reported.

Police said Samel drove the truck toward an officer who was on foot and that’s when police started firing.

Samel was killed and another man in the car was hurt, Outside said.

The Anchorage Daily News described Samel’s life as “complicated,” reporting that relatives said the hunter had bipolar disorder. His mother, Roberta Lincoln, told the newspaper that it’s possible her son wasn’t drinking but was off of his medications.

Samel’s small part in the McCandless story occurred in 1992 when he and two other hunters found a 1940s bus in a remote area in Alaska. There was a terrible smell coming from it, and Krakrauer wrote in his book: “Samel steeled himself to take a look.”

He found McCandless’ body in a sleeping bag.

"He was kind of proud of the fact that maybe he helped somehow but it wasn't a turning point for him or anything," brother Steve Samel told the Anchorage Daily News. "He hunted and fished a lot."

Steve Samel told the paper that the family wanted more information on exactly what happened when his brother was killed. The truck Samel was driving had a device on it that required the driver to take a breath test before it would start.

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