1st fatal California mountain lion attack in 20 years leaves 1 man dead and his brother injured

Written by on March 24, 2024

ABC News

A weekend outing to the Northern California woods took a horrific turn for two brothers when a mountain lion attacked them, killing one and leaving the other with traumatic injuries to the face, authorities said.

This was the first fatal attack by a cougar in the state in 20 years, California officials said.

The attack unfolded Saturday afternoon while the brothers, ages 21 and 18, were out searching for shed deer antlers near the El Dorado National Forest, about 52 miles northeast of Sacramento, authorities said.

The teenager who survived the attack called 911 at about 1:13 p.m. PT, reporting they had been attacked by a cougar and that he had become separated from his older sibling, according to a statement from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.

When sheriff’s deputies and paramedics arrived at the scene near Georgetown around 1:34 p.m., they located the injured teenager and began administering first aid, according to the sheriff’s office.

Additional deputies sent to the scene launched a search for the teenager’s brother, finding him nearby lying motionless on the ground with the mountain lion crouched between them and the mortally injured man, according to the sheriff’s office.

“Deputies discharged their firearms in order to scare the mountain lion off so they could render medical aid,” the sheriff’s office said.

But by the time they reached the victim, he was dead, authorities said.

The teenager was taken to a local hospital where he was being treated. Information on his condition was not immediately disclosed.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife game wardens and an El Dorado County trapper combed the area for the mountain lion, authorities said.

“The mountain lion was dispatched, and the body of the mountain lion was collected for further examination,” according to the sheriff’s office.


Mountain lion attacks on humans are rare in California, authorities said. According to state fish and wildlife officials, the last recorded fatal mountain lion attack in California occurred in January 2004, when a 35-year-old cyclist was killed on a trail in Orange County, authorities said.

The last fatal mountain lion attack in El Dorado County occurred in April 1994, when a 40-year-old woman was killed in the Auburn State Recreation Area, according to officials.

Since 1890, fewer than 50 mountain lion attacks on humans have been reported in California, including six that have been fatal, officials said.

In February, a group of cyclists near Seattle, Washington, were credited with saving a fellow rider’s life by fighting off a cougar that attacked her on a trail, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The scary wildlife-human encounter happened near Fall City, Washington, about 25 miles southeast of Seattle and left the 60-year-old rider, Keri Bergere, hospitalized with serious injuries, officials said. Four other cyclists were hurt when they rushed to save Bergere, who suffered injuries to her face, neck and jaw.

“I just think all the time how I could be dead if my four ladies that I was with didn’t jump in and save my life,” Bergere said in an interview with ABC News last week. “We call fought out there, but I could not have done it on my own.”

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