In a rare and unthinkable ambush and attack, a male mountain lion mauled two people biking in a remote section of the Snoqualmie woods, around 30 miles east of Seattle, late Saturday morning, killing one and wounding the other. The animal actually attacked twice, reports indicate. The bikers tried to fight it off; one survived the carnage, the other did not. SJ Brooks was killed, Isaac “Izzy”
Sederbaum is hospitalized
Since 1890, there have been less than two dozen fatal attacks on humans by the cat also known as a cougar, panther, and puma among other colloquial names. Both nocturnal and diurnal, the mountain lion is an ambush predator.
The suspect cat was tracked by wildlife authorities and shot.
Here’s what you need to know about Brooks and Sederbaum and the attack,the first in Washington State in a century:
1. A Starving Mountain Lion Twice Attacked & Mauled Two Cyclists, Killing One & Seriously Injuring Another
Late Saturday morning, an emergency dispatcher received a call from the North Bend Snoqualmie woods in Washington: "Can you hear me? Help!"
The call disconnected.
That was around 11 a.m. Minutes later, East King County Washington Eastside Professional Firefighters tweeted it was responding to a call for a mountain lion attack. At the time, it wasn't clear that it was attacks, plural.
The King County Sheriff's department confirmed shortly after noon that there were two people attacked and at least one had survived the ambush attack, “escaped” on a bike, and rode for two miles to locate a cell phone signal to make, presumably, the 911 call previously reported.
According to a report from KOMONews.com, an official said they were riding their bikes in a remote area and likely did nothing to provoke an attack.
“It sounds like they were just riding bikes when of the victims hears a scream from his partner and sees they’re being chased by a cougar,” the website quoted Captain Alan Myers with Fish and Wildlife as saying.
It’s reported the two fought off the cat by “swinging their bikes and the mountain lion ran back in the woods.”
Meyers told KOMO that’s what they were supposed to do: “Make a lot of noise, which is exactly what we tell people to do. Don’t run, whatever you do, don’t run, throw things at it, make noise. It sounds like that’s what they started doing initially.”
Sederbaum, 32, who was still hospitalized Monday and listed in satisfactory condition too was mauled by the cougar and during the attack, said his head was inside the cougar’s mouth. According to local media, the bikers did what expert suggest; made loud noises, shouted, faced the cougar, and “one even smacked the cougar with his bike, and it ran off.”
“The second cyclist (Brooks) ran, and the animal dropped the first victim (Sederbaum) and pounced on him (Brooks), killing him and dragging him back to what appeared to be its den.”
According to local media reports, an expert from the state wildlife department said that the cat was “significantly underweight” and a male cougar in the 3 to 4-year-old range should have weighed 140 to 180 pounds, but this cat weight 100 pounds.
2. Brooks was a Founder of ‘Friends on Bikes,’ Which Promotes Cycling for Trans & Gender Non-Conforming Women of Color
SJ and Izzy had set out to do some off-road mountain biking Saturday morning in the North Bend area of the Cascade foothills. The cougar appeared and began chasing them and despite repeated attempts to fight off the cougar, Brooks was killed.
Brooks is a co-founder of ‘Friends on Bikes’ that seeks to “promote and grow diversity in cycling.”
“Deeply heartbroken for the loss of SJ Brooks. No words can describe how much they will be missed in FOB, Seattle and the community at large. They were a positive light who worked tirelessly to create change. We’ve suffered a great loss. Please keep their family and loved ones in your thoughts. As well for Izzy who is still recovering. Keep your loved ones close, life is precious,” the group posted on its Instagram page.
‘Friends on Bikes’ explains its mission and encourages women of color “to join us,”
“Our efforts are focused primarily on women of color and trans* and gender non-conforming people of color.”
According to Brooks’ bio on ‘Friends on Bikes,’ SJ was born in “Kansas and has fond memories of crushing down the Shunga Trail as a kid. While living in Montreal, SJ started riding bikes as a means of transportation. Their first overnight bike camping trip was to Harold Parker State Forest from Boston,” Brooks/ bio reads.
“Now in Seattle, SJ has retired from working as a bike mechanic and is enjoying riding their bike to explore the Pacific Northwest,” the bio read.
The cycling group’s mission is to “ensure that women of color have a safe, supportive and fun cycling community that they belong to. We encourage all forms of riding, from everyday commuting to casual riding to off-road adventures… we want to bring more exposure to women of color who aren’t being heard in the cycling community,” it’s explained.
“There is a huge lack of representation for women of color in cycling media, advocacy and organizations. We believe that we can break down the typical white male cyclist stereotype if we combine and amplify our voices together …we believe in volunteering, donating and working with our allies to encourage more cycling advocacy for women of color. We support nonprofits, businesses and individuals who encourage progress for the cycling community.”
FOB has set up a scholarship.
The group has frequent cycling events posted on its site.
3. Sederbaum, Seriously Injured, Rode Frantically to Find a Cell Phone Signal to Call For Help
Seattle-based KOMO TV news reported it had obtained the 911 calls for help: “I got attacked by a mountain lion … my friend is up there.”
The station reported the 911 calls “dropped (disconnected because of lack of signal) five times as Sederbaum tried to relay his location to first responders.”
It’s reported that there were passers-by, of of whom spoke to the rescue dispatcher who asked if Sederbaum was “conscious,” to which the person replied, yes but added Sederbaum had “some pretty serious lacerations” about the face and head. The dispatcher advised to keep pressure on the wounds until help arrived.
The King County Sheriff’s department’s public information officer Sgt. Ryan Abbott tweeted the department was on its way.
“I am heading to the scene of the Cougar attack. One victim 40’s transported to HVH for treatment. Second victim found dead from attack. I will update with additional info when I arrive.” It’s not known the victim, Brooks, was 32.
By nearly 5 p.m., wildlife officials had still not located Brooks’ body, it was reported, indicating authorities were trying to find cougar first for “safety reasons.”
But that account conflicted with earlier reports that the victim had been located with the cougar standing over Brooks. A later report said when first responders arrived, the cougar was with Brooks nd officers said they “shot at it and it ran away.”
4. Wildlife Officials Searched & Tracked The Cougar For Hours. Once Located, it Was Killed & Would Have DNA Testing to Ensure it Was The Cougar Responsible For The Attack
While on the scene of the attack, a local journalist and mountain biking and hiking aficiando Michael Crowe was approached by a man who had video from April 29 of what could have been the cougar responsible for the fatal attack. Or not.
Wildlife officials, concerned that until they had the suspect cat identified and either captured or killed, alerted hikers to avoid the area of Tolt Reservoir and Hancock Road.
After tracking the cat it for more than four hours, at 6:30 p.m., wildlife officials, using hound dogs, located the cougar they believed responsible and killed the 100-pound 3 or 4-year-old male cat.
Authorities said a DNA test would be performed to confirm it was the same cat, but felt confident they’d captured and destroyed the right cougar.
5.Called Cougar, Mountain Lion, Puma, or Panther, All Are Puma Concolor, The Largest Cat in Small Cat Species. Fatal Attacks Are Rare
Artur Dangle was 7 when he was attacked and killed by two cougars in Quartz Valley, California in 1890, when record-keeping of fatal attacks began. Over the next 120 years, 19 people have been killed by the wild cat in the North America, mostly California and British Columbia, but also in Mexico, New Mexico, Colorado, Montana Texas and even Kentucky from 1890 until May 19 2018 when the 21st fatality was recorded in Washington State, a mountain biker SJ Brooks.
There are 32 Puma concolor subspecies known by several names depending on geography and culture and include puma, painter, catamount, cougar, mountain lion, painter, catamount and panther, the latter the subspecies endangered Florida panther, with what’s believed to be 120 to 200 left in the wild. The Puma concolor or whatever name you prefer, are the largest of the so-called small cats. Eastern U.S. cougars are extinct. Fatal cougar attacks are rare.
A Discovery Channel feature explained, the ‘cougar’s modus operandi: stalk-and-ambush.”
“This big guy can sprint like a champion, but chooses instead to creep through cover of brush or trees, then deliver a sudden, shocking and powerful leap onto its target, killing quickly with a suffocating neck bite. Not too surprisingly, other than humans no animal preys on an adult cougar.”
So while fatal attacks are uncommon, encounters with mountain lions, pumas, cougars or panthers, take your pick, are more common than one might think.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has a cougar ‘wildlife Conflict Incident Report’ map for the public to view.
The National Park Service provides a ‘safety in mountain lion habitat’ guide for possible big cat encounters.
First, don’t run. Any movement that triggers its instinct to chase should be avoided. Don’t crouch or bend or turn your back on it.
Make eye contact, use a loud commanding voice, look menacing as possible; get tall, spread your arms to appear larger than it. Throw whatever you have at your disposal near it but not at it unless if moves toward you, then hurl rocks, branches, whatever at the animal. If it keeps coming and attacks, fight back and don’t let it get your head or neck. “A hiker in Southern California used a rock to fend off a mountain lion that was attacking his son. Others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools, and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal,” the NPS article explained.