The death of a small-town boy has left a big hole in the hearts of a Southwest Oklahoma community.

Anthony Montoya was working on a remote drill site in Alaska when he was mauled to death by a bear and her cubs Monday, October 1.

Just days prior to his death, family friend and Hollis resident Audrey Manney says Montoya discussed the dangers while on the job.

“He had been chased by a bear and he made it back to the campsite or mine site,” Manney said.

Manney says Montoya had plans to change career paths.

“Who wouldn’t be scared with a grizzly on your tail he knew it was dangerous,” Manney said.

Manney says even though Montoya was small in stature, he more than made up for in heart and personality.

“He was a David in a world of Goliaths. He was defying the odds,” Manney said.

“You'd want to give him a big hug and 20 seconds later you probably want to kick him in the tail, that’s who he was, a lot of fun to be around,” Manney said.

According to Manney, Montoya had a gift, a light that shined from within.

“Wherever he went, he made lifetime friends he was one of those people, if you knew him for three days you might as well have known him for three years,” Manney said.

She says despite a rocky home life, Montoya always maintained an infectious smile and winning spirit.

“Think that’s’ why he was so dear to people because a lot of people are like him and they saw him overcome these obstacles and slaying giants and he was going to be somebody,” Manney said.

And when his mother died last year, Manney says a community stepped in, eager to help a young boy carve his path.

“He was consciously making decisions to better himself and that’s what was so special about him. everybody loved a good underdog story,” Manney said.