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911 call audio released in fatal cougar attack

Audio of a series of 911 calls released this week by the King County Sheriff's Office in Washington state reveals the terrifying moments after a mountain lion attacked two cyclists.

Posted: May 25, 2018 6:09 AM
Updated: May 25, 2018 6:13 AM

Isaac Sederbaum had biked 2 miles with bite marks and scratches on his head, neck and face, trying to get cell phone reception to call 911. He tried several times, but the calls kept dropping.

He called again and connected long enough to yell, "Help!" But the call dropped once more.

Finally a call went through.

"I got attacked by a mountain lion," Sederbaum told a dispatcher, gasping for breath. "My friend -- I don't know where I am."

Audio of a series of 911 calls released this week by the King County Sheriff's Office in Washington state reveal the terrifying moments after a mountain lion attacked the 31-year-old cyclist and his friend, S.J. Brooks, 32, while they were mountain biking Saturday in the Cascade Mountains near Seattle. Brooks, who was bitten in the face, legs and neck, did not survive.

In the calls, Sederbaum talked quickly, speaking over the dispatcher, desperately trying to describe his location so he and Brooks could get help.

"Listen to me," the dispatcher said. "Listen. Listen. I need you to hang up and call 911 so we can get location on you."

During the next call, Sederbaum heard a car approaching and flagged the driver down. "Can you talk to 911?" he asked a woman. "I got attacked by a mountain lion. My friend is up there."

The passer-by tried to explain their location to the 911 dispatcher as Sederbaum became increasingly distressed. Crying can be heard in the background.

"This guy -- you got to get somebody out here," the driver said while scanning a map. "You're not going to die," she assured the cyclist.

'I'm just so worried about my friend'

In separate audio recordings, a dispatcher spoke with another bystander, who identified himself as Matt.

"He's kind of a little freaked out," Matt said.

"Is he conscious right now?"

"He's conscious, yeah," Matt responded as he attempted to calm Sederbaum. "He's got some pretty serious lacerations on his face and head. He's pretty well covered with blood.

"He says he has a friend that's still up somewhere and may be really seriously hurt," Matt said.

"He's really scared. He does want to get out of the mountains," Matt said later. "He does have some bad lacerations, particularly on his right ear."

The dispatcher then asked to speak to Sederbaum, who repeated his need for an ambulance. He began to cry.

"I'm just so worried about -- I'm just so worried about my friend," he said, his voice breaking. He managed to calm down to explain where authorities might find Brooks -- near a logging road about 5 miles away.

Finally, an ambulance arrived and took Sederbaum to a Seattle hospital where, he underwent surgery. He was released Tuesday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

The sheriff's office said the cyclists initially fought the cougar off with a mountain bike and the animal ran into the woods. But it came back, crunching down on Sederbaum's head and thrashing him from side to side, he later told authorities. He somehow managed to get loose when the cougar began to chase his friend.

When sheriff's deputies located Brooks, the cougar was standing on top of the cyclist's body, which the cougar had dragged away from the scene and partially buried beneath a log.

Cougar attacks are incredibly rare. Saturday's was the first in Washington state in 100 years.

The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife police have said the cougar weighed about 100 pounds. That's significantly less than what male cougars typically weigh, according to experts, who said hunger and desperation may have prompted the animal to attack the mountain bikers.

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