"They did everything they were supposed to do. But something was wrong with this cougar." That's the take from King County Sheriff's Sgt. Ryan Abbott after a rare attack on humans left one cyclist dead in Washington state Saturday and another badly injured. The Seattle men's identities have been released; SJ Brooks, 32, was killed and Isaac Sederbaum, 31, was injured. Police say the 3-year-old cougar, which was located and killed after the attack, was "emaciated," weighing just 100 pounds rather than the more typical 140 to 180 pounds. "It was skinnier than normal," says state wildlife official Alan Myers. A brain necropsy will be performed to see whether the animal was sick, the Seattle Times reports. Officials say the animal acted abnormally; cougars don't often attack humans, and the last fatal cougar attack in Washington occurred in 1924.
The cougar chased the men down the road; they got off their bikes and followed recommendations for facing down a cougar: yelling at it in an attempt to scare it away, and hitting it with one of the bikes when it approached. It ran off, but as the men tried to catch their breath, it circled back and grabbed Sederbaum by the head, the AP reports. "The cougar had his head in his jaws and was shaking him violently," Myers says. Brooks dropped his bike and ran, causing the cougar to let go of Sederbaum, chase Brooks down, pounce on him, and kill him. "You are in a flight or fight situation—you are going to want to flee and it’s completely natural but it triggers a chase response in a cougar," Myers says. The animal dragged Brooks to its apparent den as Sederbaum rode to find cell reception and call for help. (In California, cougars have acquired a taste for pets.)