Boy Survives Mountain Lion Attack

Jack Trexler was hospitalized after Tuesday's attack in California's San Mateo County
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2023 7:30 AM CST
Cougar Had 5-Year-Old 'Fighting for His Life'
A mountain lion prowls on Vancouver Island.   (Getty Images/Finn Steiner)

A 5-year-old boy on a hike with his family in California ended up "fighting for his life" as he was attacked by a mountain lion. The family was hiking near their farm property in rural San Mateo County just before 7pm Tuesday when Jack Trexler ran a little ahead of his mother and grandparents, his aunt Amie Wagner tells the San Francisco Chronicle. "He must have scared the mountain lion." The animal apparently launched itself at the boy—leaving him with a facial fracture, deep cuts, and many bruises—before his mother, Suzie Trexler, scared it off.

"It's my understanding that the boy was fighting for his life," Capt. Patrick Foy of the Department of Fish and Wildlife tells the Chronicle. It was "a pretty vicious attack," he tells KGO, noting the cougar took the boy to the ground and was "biting into" him. "The mom lunged at the mountain lion, and just before making physical contact with it, the lion let her son go." Jack was taken to a hospital before authorities arrived. "The worst injuries, including deep wounds and a fracture, are on his face," per the Chronicle. "But he's going to be OK," Sgt. Javier Acosta of the sheriff’s office tells the Los Angeles Times. Jack was back home on Wednesday.

"Fortunately, it was a juvenile [cougar]," Wagner tells KGO, though forensic tests have yet to be completed. "We are doing our best to try and capture the lion and remove it, so it can’t threaten anyone else," says Foy. Acosta, a 20-year veteran of the sheriff's office, says this is the first cougar attack he's aware of in San Mateo County. It's the eighth reported attack in the state in the last five years, all non-fatal. All but one of the victims were children aged 7 or under. Still, "I think you're going to have a far greater chance of your child being attacked by the neighbor's dog than by a mountain lion," Foy tells the Chronicle. (The last attack came in September.)

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