Pike Carlson, an 8-year-old boy from Bailey, Colorado, is one tough kid.
Exhibiting bravery and courage well beyond his years, Pike fought back against a mountain lion that attacked and bit him on the face.
Moments before, Pike was jumping on the trampoline in his backyard with his brother, Gage. He hopped off and ran toward a friend’s house when out of nowhere, a mountain lion pounced, seizing Pike by the head and dragging his body down a hill.
Pike, despite his head being inside a lion’s mouth, did what he could to fight back.
“I was just punching, trying to grab anything that I can, like a stick,” Pike told WKYC. “I did find a stick and I tried to get it in the eye but soon the stick snapped.”
Eight-year-old Pike Carlson was playing in his backyard when the mountain lion attacked. https://t.co/jozNUnPKSz
— WTHR.com (@WTHRcom) September 6, 2019
Meanwhile, Gage had raced indoors, screaming that his little brother was being attacked. Pike’s father, Ron Carlson, was at home and raced out to the backyard to find his son.
“That parental instinct to protect your child kind of kicks in,” Carlson said. “It never even entered my head that I was about to tangle with something that could kill me. All you know is you have to do something. It doesn’t matter what happens to you, you’ve got to protect your children.”
Carlson said that his young son remembered that all animals have a shared weakness — their eyeballs.
“He told me ‘Dad, all animals have a vulnerable spot, their eyeballs,'” Carlson said. “So he picked up a stick that was underneath the tree and was reaching back trying to poke it in the eye.”
By the time Carlson got to his son, the mountain lion had started chewing on Pike’s face. But Carlson effectively scared the mountain lion, and it released Pike and ran away.
“When I first picked him up, I could see the whole side of his face was open,” Carlson recalled. “There was blood all over him. His scalp was ripped open in several spots. It was something that no parent should ever see.”
Pike was rushed to a hospital, where he had two surgeries to repair the wounds to his head and face.
The trauma of the day’s events weighed heavily on Pike’s mother, Julie Carlson, as she watched her son recover in a hospital bed.
“That first night in the hospital, even though the doctors were saying it’s going to be OK, I just kept flashing back to what could have happened,” Julie Carlson said. “What if Gage, my oldest, didn’t get to him in time? What if my husband didn’t get to him in time?”
As Pike continues to recover, he has a clear message for anybody considering a wrestling match with a mountain lion: Don’t.
“The mountain lion is a cheater,” Pike said with a grin. “No one try to wrestle a mountain lion. It is a cheater.”
According to KUSA, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials announced that they did locate and euthanize the mountain lion responsible for the attack.
Per CPW policy, any wild animal involved in an attack on people that results in an injury must be put down. The mountain lion had also killed one goat from a livestock yard that same day.
“It is reassuring to know that the mountain lion from both the attack and depredation of the goat was removed from the area,” district wildlife manager Mark Lamb said.
The Carlson family continues to heal from the traumatizing attack, and Pike will likely have additional surgeries in the future. They thanked the first responders and hospital staff for caring for Pike with such attention and dedication.
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