Colorado boy, 8, describes fighting off mountain lion attack: 'I was just punching'

Pike Carlson described how he fought a mountain lion that attacked him outside his Colorado home in August.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

An 8-year-old boy who was attacked by a mountain lion outside his Colorado home last month has shared how he kept fighting even when the animal had his head in its mouth.

Pike Carlson told NBC affiliate KUSA how he bravely fought off a 65-pound male mountain lion after it attacked him when he was playing with his brother outside the family's home in Bailey, a rural area about an hour south of Denver.

“I was just punching, trying to grab anything that I can, like a stick,” Pike said. “I did find a stick and I tried to get it in the eye, but soon the stick snapped.”

The boy's father, Ron Carlson, ran out to help Pike after his older son ran to tell him what happened. The mountain lion had Pike's head in its mouth and had pulled him under a tree before Ron was able to scare it off.

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"When I first picked him up, I could see the whole side of his face was open,'' Carlson told KUSA. "There was blood all over him. His scalp was ripped open in several spots. It was something that no parent should ever see."

Pike Carlson, 8, needed dozens of stitches and staples and a pair of surgeries to repair lacerations to his face and head after a mountain lion attack. NBC News

Paramedics took Pike to Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, where he required dozens of stitches and staples to close his wounds.

He also underwent a pair of surgeries to repair lacerations to his head and face, and may need another to repair damage to his left eyelid, the Carlsons told KUSA.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife euthanized two male mountain lions the day after the attack, and tissue samples from one of them, a 1-year-old male, matched hair from Pike, the department said in a news release.

"This male juvenile mountain lion was not only a threat to human safety, but obviously to livestock and pets as well," wildlife manager Mark Lamb said in the release.

Mountain lion attacks are rare, with fewer than a dozen fatal attacks on people in North America in the last 100 years, according to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website. Since 1990, there have been 22 mountain lion attacks on humans in Colorado, three of them fatal.

There have been three attacks in Colorado this year. The last time three attacks occurred within the same year was in 1998, officials said.

The young boy had some advice for others who might find themselves in a tangle with a mountain lion.

"No one try to wrestle a mountain lion,'' Pike said. "It is a cheater.”