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The Inertia

On Saturday morning in the foothills near North Bend, Washington, two mountain bikers were attacked by a cougar, which ended in a fatality. It was the first deadly mountain lion encounter in Washington state in over a century.

According to local reports, the mountain bikers were 31 and 32 years of age. The 32-year-old didn’t survive. By all accounts, it was a terrifying ordeal. According to the surviving victim, the pair was riding through the Lake Hancock forest. At around 11 a.m., they realized they were being stalked by the mountain lion. They stopped and did what they were supposed to do in that situation: look big and be loud. Tragically, it didn’t work.

“The two victims then took a minute and were catching their breath about this amazing, incredibly-scary event that just occurred,” Capt. Alan Myers of the State Department of Fish and Wildlife told Kiro 7 News. “And suddenly the victim, who’s now in Harborview, was attacked again by this cougar. It latched onto his head.”

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The 32-year-old ran from the scene, prompting the lion to give chase, mortally wounding him. By 11:20 a.m., officials were called and the survivor was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for serious injuries. “He said he had his whole entire head in the jaws of this animal,” Myers explained,  “and was being shaken around very, very horribly.”

By Saturday afternoon, officials had found the deceased victim with the cougar standing over him. At around 4:30 in the afternoon, the lion was exterminated by officers. According to reports, it was a 100-pound male cat, around three to four years of age. Its behavior was very odd, according to wildlife officials. “The fact that it stayed in close proximity to these folks and attacked and stayed with them is highly, highly unusual,” Myers said.

There are several lists documenting fatal mountain lion attacks in the U.S. The last fatal incident occurred in 2008 when a man in New Mexico was found fatally wounded near his mobile home in Pinos Altos. Before that, another mountain biker was killed in Orange County in 2004 at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park.

This story was updated to further emphasize that this was the first recorded mountain lion fatality in the state of Washington in 100 years as well as with information regarding past deadly cougar encounters.