Two mountain bikers were attacked by a mountain lion and one was killed in Washington state on Saturday, despite doing nearly everything right during the confrontation.
This weekend's attack in Washington happened when S.J. Brooks, 32 — a Kansas native— and Isaac Sederbaum, 31, were mountain biking near North Bend, about 30 miles from Seattle. According to The Washington Post, the two realized they were being followed by the cougar and made loud noises to initially chase it away.
But the mountain lion — also known as a cougar — returned and pounced on Sederbaum. When Brooks got off his bike and ran away, the cat took chase and attacked him, according to The Washington Post.
Brooks was "brutally mauled," Capt. Alan Myers of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife told The Post.
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"Brooks was an amazing, fun-loving, selfless friend, a great advocate, just all around awesome," Marley Blonsky, a friend of Brooks, told Wichita's KSNW.
While Brooks was from Kansas and most recently lived in Washington, he studied at Boston University and previously worked at the Boston Center for Arts, according to WBZ.
“S.J. was committed and dedicated to making this world a better place and he inspired a lot of people to do that too,” Elijah Evans told WBZ about his friend.
It's unclear why the mountain lion returned to attack the two cyclists. The animal, which officials called "emaciated," was shot and killed, and its carcass sent to a veterinary lab at Washington State University, where a veterinarian will conduct a brain necropsy to determine what may have been wrong with it.
"They did everything they were supposed to do," King County sheriff's Sgt. Ryan Abbott told The Associated Press of the cyclists. "But something was wrong with this cougar."
Peter Tira, a public information officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said he's not sure whether standing and fighting would have changed the tragic outcome in Washington, but fighting is recommended when faced with a puma.
"You want to stand your ground and fight," said Peter Tira, a public information officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. "You never want to run from a mountain lion because that's what their prey do, and when you run you look like a prey animal."
If you encounter a mountain lion, don't run. Face the animal, make noise, throw rocks and try to look bigger by waving your arms. Pick up dogs and children. If the mountain lion attacks, call 911 immediately.
"Let that mountain lion know you are not a prey animal, it needs to move on, and in almost all cases it does," Tira said.
Mountain lion attacks are incredibly rare — this was only the second cougar-related death in Washington in 94 years — and Tira said that in California, attacks appear to be pretty spread out over the years.
There have been 15 verified mountain lion attacks in California since 1986, and of those, just three were fatal, according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife data.
The last nonfatal mountain lion attack in California was in 2014, in Cupertino. The last fatal mountain lion attack was in Orange County in 2004.
"It doesn't make a victim feel better, but for all the people we have in California and all the people outdoors, mountain lions are outstanding at avoiding us," Tira said.
Sederbaum, though injured, managed to ride off on his bike and find help. He was listed in satisfactory condition, according to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.