California mom leaps to save her 5-year-old son from a cougar
A 5-year-old boy was walking with his mother and grandparents near the northern California coast when a mountain lion pounced.
The big cat attacked Jack Trexler, pinning him to the ground. The boy had gotten a bit ahead of his family when the attack happened, but his mother was close enough to throw herself away, according to an account sent to USA TODAY by the boy’s father, Jay Trexler.
Suzie Trexler charged the animal, causing it to drop her son and walk away, Jay Trexler said in a statement Thursday. The attack happened two days earlier near a farm where the family lives in Half Moon Bay, about 30 miles south of San Francisco.
Suzie Trexler hugged Jack and took him to the hospital.
“It happened so fast,” Jay Trexler said, calling his wife “the bravest woman I know.”
“She did what she had to do and saved my son,” he said.
A “resilient child”
Jack was treated for cuts and scrapes to his face and all over his body and for a broken bone near his eye that may require surgery, Jay Trexler said.
He was discharged from hospital the same day of the attack and is recovering at home.
“He will be fine once his injuries heal,” Trexler wrote. “He’s a very resilient kid, and I hope he bounces back quickly. When he told me the story, he said, ‘Dad, a cougar tackled me!'”
Since the attack, he said his son had had good nights rest and even some play time amid the pain management.
“We’re going to help our son recover and then live life to the fullest,” he said.
Search completed for cougar
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife called the attack by a juvenile mountain lion vicious and conducted a limited search in the area, although the animal was not found.
Often in such cases animals are put down because of the threat they may pose to people. But the department was unable to pursue the search because the attack occurred on private property and the owners refused access, department spokesman Patrick Foy said Friday.
“This lack of access, combined with deteriorating weather conditions and the nomadic nature of cougars, has diminished the chances of successfully capturing the offending puma,” he said in a statement. “(The department) is concluding its investigation and any attempt to capture the offending lion.”
Cougars very rarely attack people. Since 1986, there have been only 21 attacks on people in California; three of them were fatal, according to the department.
A known hazard
Trexler said he and his family have lived and worked on the farm where the attack happened for more than 12 years and have done what they can to lessen the danger posed by wildlife in the area.
“We know the risks of working and hiking in the hills where we live with mountain lions in the area. We carry bear spray to be safe,” he said. “These precautions didn’t matter in this case.”
He has no doubt that Jack and his family will soon be back on the trail because “that’s what we do”.
“We are a family that loves the outdoors, and this experience won’t take anything away from us,” he said. “I think it’s important not to be afraid of the cougars but to be careful and alert when you’re in their habitat…We’re grateful the cat wasn’t bigger and he didn’t bite our son because it would have been a different story.”
Amie Wagner, Trexler’s sister and Jack’s aunt, said her nephew “is such an amazing little guy and Suzie is a hero”.