IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

How cyclist's friends helped her escape cougar’s jaws around her head during attack

Keri Bergere said she's lucky to be alive, in large part because of her friends’ actions.
/ Source: TODAY

A woman in Washington state is speaking out after she survived a cougar attack while she on a bike ride.

Keri Bergere is a competitive cyclist who was out for a ride Feb. 17 with four other women about 30 miles outside of Seattle when the animal darted out of the woods and attacked her, with her head in its grasp, according to Seattle NBC affiliate KING 5.

“I knew every second what was going on,” Bergere told KING 5. “And I was doing my own, you know, poking at it and trying to poke its eyeballs out and get up his nose and pry his mouth with my hand.”

A group of women cyclists use a bike to pin down a mountain lion that attacked one of them in Washington state.
A group of women cyclists used a bike to pin down a cougar that attacked one of them in Washington state.KING 5

The encounter, which featured a second cougar that ran away, according to KING 5, happened so quickly the women didn’t have an opportunity to take action.

“From the time we saw the cougars to the time it took Keri off her bike was about three seconds,” Annie Bilotta, one of the cyclists who was with Bergere, recalled. “We didn’t have a chance to face off with them to scare them away or anything.”

“I immediately tried to choke the cougar, which was like trying to choke a rock,” Bilotta continued.

Bergere told KING 5 that she estimates it took only about one second from the moment they saw the animals until the time the cougar mauled her. It took 15 minutes for the cougar to loosen its grip on her, enabling Bergere to break free. The other cyclists managed to pin down the animal with a bike and hold it there until help arrived on the scene.

Cougar Attack
Keri Bergere (left), talked about her ordeal and how she survived it, thanks, in part to Annie Bilotta (center) and Tisch Williams (right).TODAY

“Keri’s just laying there by herself and we kept saying, ‘Are you doing OK?’ and she would just give us a bloody thumbs up that she was doing OK,” Tisch Williams, another cyclist who was there during the attack, told KING 5.

Bergere, who suffered severe damage to her face and permanent nerve damage, is quick to point out how her friends who were riding with her saved her life.

“I know for a fact I would be dead, if they didn’t come back in. I would just be gone,” she said.

“We just did what we had it to do. And part of it was just primal instinct. Just get in there and fight,” Bilotta said.

“The cougar wasn’t going to take us cougars down,” Williams said.