Women immobilized a puma during a ‘hand-to-hand combat’ to save a friend trapped in its jaws

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By journalsofus.com

A group of Seattle-area cyclists who helped one of their own escape the jaws of a mountain lion told their story this weekend, saying they fought off the cat and pinned it down.

The woman attacked, Keri Bergere, suffered injuries to her neck and face and was treated at a hospital and released after the incident of February 17 on a trail northeast of Fall City, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement.

Bergere said he spent five days in an area hospital and was still recovering.

Fish and Wildlife Lt. Erik Olson called his fellow riders’ actions “heroic” in the statement. But the extent of the riders’ battle with the 75-pound cat was not immediately clear.

Three of the riders, Bergere, Annie Bilotta and Tisch Williams, spoke to the NBC affiliate. KING of Seattle for a story on Friday.

The trio, who have been biking together for five years and compete in competitions, said they were about 19 miles into a hike, near the Tokul Creek bike trails, when suddenly a pair of mountain lions ran up and one of them He grabbed Bergere and dragged her off her bike.

“I just remember being approached from this side and I ended up on the other side of the road pinned to the ground and I heard all the women gathering and fighting for my life,” Bergere told KING.

The other cat ran into the hills, the riders said, as the four riders with Bergere mounted a counterattack to save her from the clutches of the attacker’s jaws, at that point around her face and applying pressure.

“Erica and Tisch come with sticks and a rock and we’re fighting this thing hand to hand,” Bilotta told the station.

Cougars use the extraordinary strength of their jaws, which are said to exert approximately 400 pounds per square inch of pressure, to crush skullsneck bones and tracheas of prey, experts say.

For a while it seemed like the cat wouldn’t budge as Bergere pitched in by doing everything he could, including touching its eyes and nose, he told the Seattle station.

But about 15 minutes into the saga, the riders said, the cat relaxed its grip on Bergere and she was able to remove her face from its jaws.

At that point, the women used a bicycle to restrain the cougar while help was on the way, they said. Bergere was nearby, wounded but alive.

“She just gave us the thumbs up,” Williams recalled.

Fish and Wildlife officers shot the cougar to death and removed it for examination, later concluding that it had no diseases or abnormalities that could contribute to such a provocation, according to the agency’s statement.

The second cat was not found.

Bergere expressed his gratitude to his fellow cyclists.

“I know for a fact that I would be dead if they didn’t come back in, I would have just left,” she told KING. “That cougar had me.”

This article was originally published in NBCNews.com

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