A mother's worst nightmare came true as she had to wrestle her child away from the jaws of a mountain lion.
On June 17, a five-year-old boy was attacked by a mountain lion in his family's yard, located about 10 miles away from Aspen in Lower Woody Creek in Pitkin County, Colorado, as reported by KVUE.
The boy and his older brother were playing outside when their mother heard the child screaming. The older son said his brother had been attacked by a fox, according to the Aspen Times. When she came outside, he saw the mountain lion on top of her young son, whose head was completely covered by the animal’s mouth.
"She grabbed a paw and lifted it up, and put her right hand in its mouth to pry the boy out of its mouth so the boy could get free," said Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy Michael Buglione, as reported by the New York Daily News.
During the incident, the child was conscious and able to speak with his mother, Buglione said.
"It wasn’t a big cat," Buglione explained. "Had it been a 110-pound lion — which I’ve seen around here — this would have been a much different story."
The child’s father took the family to Aspen Valley Hospital. The boy was in fair condition and was ultimately transferred to Children's Hospital in Denver. He had a “very deep laceration” on his right check. In addition, his right eye was swollen shut and part of his scalp was pulled back.
The mother was treated for injuries to her hands and legs at Aspen Valley Hospital.
After speaking to both parents, Buglione and another deputy met with a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer at the scene of the incident and saw the lion under a tree, as the father previously mentioned it was located.
"At the time, the assumption was it was sick or injured and needed to be put down," Buglione said.
After shooting the animal with a shotgun, officials put it in a bag in order to send it to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials to test for rabies and plague. A second mountain lion had also been killed by federal and state officials near the scene of the attack.
The last known lion attack in Colorado occurred in July 2015.
Since 1990, there have been three fatal mountain lion attacks and 18 people who suffered injuries.