“It was really scary”: North Bend cougar victim shares story of survival

NORTH BEND, Wash. — Hers is an incredible story of survival. An avid cyclist is reliving the moment last month when she was attacked by a cougar.

Her recovery documented day by day in these photos. The 60-year-old Kenmore woman making no bones about it saying it’s a miracle she survived. She credits the four female cyclists with her for saving her life.

They teamed up to get the cougar to let her go and held him down until help could arrive. This happened in North Bend.

This story is so frightening, but she is taking it all in stride.

She and her cycling friends were 19 miles into the woods here on the west slope of the cascades when a cougar ambushed her out of nowhere.

“He had a tooth in my temple here and a tooth under my chin,” said Keri Bergere, pointing to her face. “And then he reached and grabbed my ear.”

Bergere is describing the most frightening moment of her life. A young cougar, without warning, knocked her off her bicycle, then clamped his mouth firmly on her right jaw.

“I couldn’t pry it open,” she said. “I had my (neck) like this. And I was trying to pull his mouth open which was like a vise, was not moving. And then I was sticking my fingers up his nose and trying to poke his eye out. But his skin was like leather. You couldn’t even get in there.”

It had been a normal outing for her and four friends, all females cyclists. They had a permit to ride the trail on land owned by Campbell Global. And they had done it many times.

But that February day everyone had to jump into action to ensure it wouldn’t be Bergere’s last.

“The whole time, my friends are like hitting it, pulling the paws away, trying to drag it off of me,” she said. “You know, stabbing it with a little multi tool. “That’s all we had for weapons.”

She was asked if he released her at some point?

“So, he didn’t,” she said. “But for many minutes it was just still, nothing moved. But them something happened and he crushed. And I could feel my teeth floating in my mouth. I was swallowing massive amounts of blood. And I thought I was going to die.”

Without warning, he let go. Her friends sprang into action.

“And then they eventually put a bike on top of him and then pinned him down with the bike,” said. “Smart, quick thinking women.”

For which, she says, she is most thankful.

“Hearing all of the women, rushing in, heroically, without hesitation, fighting it,” she marveled. “They were just fierce. I can’t express the gratitude, the magnitude of what they did. It was just beyond belief.”

Beyond belief, indeed.

She says she didn’t lose her teeth after all. She thinks she was feeling her bones being crushed. She says she has some nerve damage in her face. Otherwise she is doing remarkably well.

And she says she will come back here. The five of them have talked about bringing a knife next time. They are debating whether to bring a firearm, too. Some of them adamantly oppose that.

But all of them want to be better prepared. She says they want to make sure they never again face death like this.