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Cougar Survivor Was 'So Worried About My Friend'

911 calls show Washington man's despair after fatal attack, struggle to determine his location
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 24, 2018 10:05 AM CDT
In this photo from Saturday, Washington State Fish and Wildlife Police confer with an individual from the King County Medical Examiner's Office and a King County Sheriff's Office deputy on a remote gravel...   (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times via AP, File)
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(Newser) – Recordings of emergency calls after a fatal cougar attack in Washington state last weekend detail how dispatchers calmly struggled to figure out exactly where the surviving victim was—and heard how worried he was about his friend. Isaac Sederbaum, 31, of Seattle was mountain biking with SJ Brooks, 32, also of Seattle, on logging roads near North Bend in the Cascade Mountain foothills on Saturday when they saw the cougar following them. Authorities said they responded the right way by trying to scare off the cougar and even smacking it with a bike, prompting it to leave. But as they caught their breath, the AP reports the animal returned, biting Sederbaum on the head and shaking him violently before turning to Brooks, who tried to run. Badly bloodied, Sederbaum rode to where he could get a phone signal. Recordings show several calls failed; the King County dispatcher called him back.

"I got attacked by a mountain lion; my friend did, too," Sederbaum said. "I don't know where I am. I'm trying to come right down the mountain." As they struggled to figure out where he was, she told him to call back "so we can get location on you" using GPS. After he did, he flagged a passing vehicle. "Can you talk to 911?" he asked a woman in the car. "I got attacked by a mountain lion. My friend is up there." As the woman tried to tell the dispatcher how to reach them, Sederbaum wailed in the background. Sederbaum's voice broke as he told another dispatcher, "I'm so worried about my friend." The first deputy arrived at 11:19am, more than a half-hour after the first call. It took responders an additional hour to find Brooks; the cougar was standing on his body and fled when an officer fired a shot. Officials used dogs to track the malnourished cougar and killed it.

(Read more cougar stories.)

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