Five Cyclists Battle Cougar to Save Their Friend

( – A group of five cyclists are sharing their story of how they fought off a cougar using their bare hands for 45 minutes after it attacked their friend during a February 17th ride in Washington state.

Part of the competitive Recycled Cycles Racing team, the cyclists had been riding for 19 miles on a trail northeast of Fall City, Washington, when the attack occurred.

The male cougar lunged at Keri Bergere, 60, knocking her into a shallow ditch on the side of the trail, and clamping down on her jaw. Bergere said it felt like the cougar was suffocating her, adding she could feel her “bones crushing.”

Her friends attempted to get the cougar off Bergere using rocks, sticks, and a knife. Annie Bilotta, 64, attempted to choke the cougar, and when that “did absolutely nothing,” tried to pry the cougar’s jaw off Bergere. As she attempted to pry its jaw off her friend, Bilotta said she felt it shifting its teeth” as if it would also bite her. While trying to avoid hitting her friend, Auna Tietz, 59, dropped a 25-pound rock on the cougar’s head multiple times as Bergere tried to poke her fingers into the cougar’s eyes and nostrils.

The cougar let go after 15 minutes, and Bergere was able to get away.

For 30 minutes, Tisch Williams, 59, used Erica Wolf’s, 51, $6,000 bike to pin down the mountain puma cougar before an officer from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife arrived. The officer shot and killed the 1-year-old male cougar, which weighed an estimated 75 pounds. Department officials say the cougar did not have rabies or another disease or issue that would lead to such aggressive behavior.

Bergere suffered noticeable facial injuries and was hospitalized in stable condition. She said she was “eternally grateful” to each of her friends who used “their bare hands and no weapons” to save her from the cougar.

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