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Cyclist Recalls Fighting Off Cougar with Her 4 Friends amid 'Bones Crushing' 45-Minute Attack

The incident occurred on Feb. 17 on a bike trail near North Bend, Washington

<p>GoFundMe</p> Keri Bergere

GoFundMe

Keri Bergere

A woman is speaking out after being attacked by a cougar while on a bike trail with her four friends in Washington last month.

Keri Bergere, 60, who shared her story with local outlet KUOW-FM, revealed how her friends — Annie Bilotta, 64, Auna Tietz, 59, Tisch Williams, 59, and Erica Wolf, 51 — helped save her life during the 45-minute fight with the animal. The incident occurred on Feb. 17 on a bike trail near North Bend.

A GoFundMe page set up to help with Bergere's recovery confirmed the experienced cyclist, who returned home from the hospital on Feb. 22, suffered "severe trauma to her face as well as permanent nerve damage."

"It will be a lifelong battle and a long road ahead to recovery," a message added.

In the new interview, Bergere explained how the young male cougar tackled her off her bike before they tumbled into a shallow ditch in "just a split second."

The cougar sunk his teeth into Bergere's jaw, pinning her face to the ground.

“I could feel the bones crushing, and I could feel it tearing back," Bergere said. “I felt like it was suffocating me."

<p>Getty</p> A stock image of a cougar

Getty

A stock image of a cougar

Related: 8-Year-Old Hospitalized After ‘Extraordinarily Rare’ Cougar Attack During Washington State Camping Trip

Bergere's friends jumped to her defense, throwing rocks and sticks at the animal to try and get it off her, as well as unsuccessfully trying to stab it with a two-inch knife.

“These ladies are not big, and they were killing this cougar,” Bergere continued.

Bilotta attempted to choke the animal, but said, “That was like choking a rock. It did absolutely nothing.”

She added that she even stuck her hands inside the cat's mouth in a bid to release its jaw.

“I felt it shifting its teeth like it wanted to try to bite me too,” Bilotta recalled. “I said 'No, you're not gonna get both of us.' "

Related: 'Tough and Brave' 9-Year-Old Girl Attacked by Cougar While Playing Hide-and-Seek

Meanwhile, Tietz grabbed the animal's leg, telling the outlet, “The cougar had his claws pretty much around her, in attack mode."

“I just thought it was done," Bergere said. "But then I got another little surge, you know, live to ride one more day.”

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After noticing the cougar hesitate, Bilotta told Bergere to "get away" and the 60-year-old managed to scramble to safety.

The friends pinned the animal down with one of their bikes before calling 911. Fish & Wildlife Police officer Chris Moszeter came by and shot and killed the cougar. An autopsy later revealed the animal had swallowed Bergere's earring which she said she "absolutely" wanted back as a reminder of her and her friends' bravery.

“All these ladies came up with superhuman strength,” Bergere said, praising her friends. “I know that the Fish & Wildlife shot the final shot to kill it. But these ladies killed that cougar with their bare hands ... I’m eternally grateful to each one of them.”

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