Lifestyle & Human Interest

9-Year-Old Girl Prays as Cougar Attacks Her at Camp: 'She Knew That He Was Going to Save Her'


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

Lily Kryzhanivskyy, a 9-year-old girl, was camping with family, doing things that kids do, when a wild animal attacked and nearly killed her.

The girl and her family were at a camp in Stevens County, Washington, but around 11 a.m. on May 28, everything went downhill.

Lily had been playing hide-and-seek with friends in the woods adjacent to the campground when she jumped out of hiding “to surprise her friends,” the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement.

Instead of surprising her friends, she was attacked by a mountain lion. The big cat tore at her face and upper body and began dragging her away.

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As she was attacked, she prayed, her aunt Okasna Mantsevich told KCPQ.

“She still had that faith. She still had that hope, like, ‘I’m going to pray to God,’ and she knew that He was going to save her,” Okasna said.

Some of the kids ran to get help, and others threw rocks at the big cat to try to scare it off. Adults nearby heard the commotion and quickly responded, and the young male mountain lion was killed on the scene.

According to Mantsevich, Lily was very calm throughout the ordeal, sitting on her own and simply asking for someone to wash her face before she was life-flighted to the hospital, where she underwent hours of surgery and remained, recovering, until June 3.

“We are extremely thankful for this little girl’s resiliency, and we’re impressed with her spunk in the face of this unfortunate encounter,” Captain Mike Sprecher with the WDFW Police said, according to Fox News. “It happened fast, and we are thankful that the adults at the camp responded so quickly.”

“We are extremely relieved that Lily is showing definite signs of recovery and that her spirit seems to be good,” Staci Lehman with the WDFW told People. “She asked us to let people know that she is okay and she is ‘tough and brave.’ And we completely agree –– she is tough and brave!”

Lily’s uncle, Alex Mantsevich, started a GoFundMe for the family, so that Lily’s mother, Yelena Ustimenko, wouldn’t have to worry about finances while helping her daughter recover.

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So far, the fundraiser sits at over $108,000.

“Yesterday June 3rd Lily was discharged from the hospital, she came home to her family,” Alex wrote in an update on June 4. “She was opening all her presents and sharing some stories about the accident, although her fingers are wrapped up She played piano.

“We thank everyone of you for praying and supporting Lily on her path to recovery. She has many appointments scheduled already and she need your support and prayers. Her left eye is slowly opening, like 1/8inches, but we pray for full recovery.”

Okasna called Lily’s recovery “literally a miracle and amazing to watch,” KCPQ reported.

Tests on the mountain lion showed that it did not have rabies at the time of the attack, and officials emphasized how rare such an attack is.

“Wild animals don’t care to be around humans any more than we want to have close encounters with them,” Sprecher said, according to People.

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