Cyclist knocked off bike and mauled in face by cougar saved by ‘heroic’ friends

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By journalsofus.com


A group of competitive cyclists in Washington state remember the harrowing experience of freeing their friend from the jaws of a mountain lion.

“All these women came up with superhuman strength,” Keri Bergere, 60, recently told an NPR-affiliated station. KUOW of his friends who saved his life. “They are young ladies, and I know that Fish and Wildlife fired the last shot to kill them. But these women killed that puma with their own hands and without weapons. I am eternally grateful to each of them.”

On February 17, Bergere and her friends, Annie Bilotta, 64; Auna Tietz, 59 years old; Tisch Williams, 59 years old; and Erica Wolf, 51, who are competitive cyclists and have been riding together for the past five years, were about 19 miles into a hike northeast of Fall City when two mountain lions suddenly approached them near the hiking trails. Tokul Creek Bikes.

One of the pumas ran away, but the other, who Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife described in a statement as a 75-pound man, he lunged at Bergere and knocked her off her bike.

“From the time we saw the cougars to the time Keri got off her bike was about three seconds,” Bilotta told the NBC affiliate. KING of Seattle.

“Wait a second, I’ll say.” Bergere intervened before Bilotta added:

“So, we didn’t get a chance to confront them to scare them or anything.”

Bergere and the mountain lion fell into a shallow ditch near the trail and the cat sank its teeth into Bergere’s jaw, pinning his face to the ground.

“I thought my teeth were loosening and I was going to swallow them,” Bergere recalled to KUOW. “I could feel the bones crushing and I could feel them tearing apart.”

“I felt like I was suffocating,” he said. “I could taste the blood in my mouth.”

Fortunately, Bergere’s friends immediately came to help and ended up fighting the animal for 45 minutes, according to KUOW.

“Erica and Tisch came with sticks and a rock and fought this thing hand to hand,” Bilotta told KING-TV.

Bilotta told KUOW that at one point he tried to strangle the cougar.

“That was like choking on a rock,” he said. “He did absolutely nothing.”

Bergere told KING-TV that she also defended herself.

“I knew every second what was happening. And I was doing my thing, poking him and trying to concentrate, with my eyes out and sticking my hand in his nose and mouth,” she said.

The women say that about 15 minutes into the fight, the cat gave way a little and Bergere was able to free himself.

“I stayed there and they continued the battle,” Bergere told KUOW.

As the other women fought the animal, they said they verbally controlled Bergere, who responded to their concerns with “a damn thumbs up,” Williams recalled to KING.

Eventually, Williams came up with the idea of ​​pinning the cougar under one of his bikes, and the women executed the plan successfully. Once the cougar was subdued, they called 911, but while they waited for help, the cat continued to struggle. The women told KUOW that at one point the cougar even lifted the bike with the women standing on it.

A Fish and Wildlife officer arrived 30 minutes later, the women told KUOW, told them to continue restraining the mountain lion, and shot it between the shoulder blades. Although Bergere, who suffered serious injuries to his face and neck from the incident, survived, the women described the cougar’s death as heartbreaking to KUOW.

After euthanizing the cat, Fish and Wildlife officials said in their statement that they took it out for examination and later concluded that it had no diseases or abnormalities that could contribute to such a provocation.

The other escaped cougar, which the agency assumed was the cougar’s mother or brother, was never found.

Fishing and wildlife LLieutenant Erik Olson described Bergère’s friends in the agency’s statement as “heroic.”

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