TOP SECRET ANIMAL ATTACK FILES
Special Report forwarded by AAF Correspondent: Jeff Dykes
from The Arizona Republic
Girl in good condition after lion attackAggressive father saves child by driving off doomed animal
By Beth DeFalco
A father's protective instinct saved his 4-year-old daughter's life when a mountain lion attacked her during a weekend outing at Bartlett Lake, authorities said Sunday.
"He did everything right. He never gave up and never stopped fighting," said Kevin Bergersen, a field supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "He went after it like a parent."
The rare attack occurred when Victoria Martinez was chasing bugs outside her family's tent Saturday night. The mountain lion clawed her, bit her on the back of the neck and dragged her 15 yards through the brush, Maricopa County Sheriff's Sgt. Don Rosenberger said.
Victoria's parents and 7-year-old brother were inside their tent when they heard her scream. Her father, Richard, sprinted from the tent and started yelling and throwing stones at the 160-pound lion until it dropped his daughter and ran away, Bergersen said.
The girl was airlifted to Phoenix Children's Hospital, where she was listed in good condition Sunday after undergoing surgery. Hospital officials expected Victoria to make a full recovery. Her family would not comment.
Only two other non-fatal mountain lion attacks have been reported in the state in the past 20 years, according the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
After scaring off the lion, the girl's parents flagged another camper and drove Victoria to a sheriff's office station at the lake, which is about 18 miles east of Cave Creek.
Martinez, the girl's father, lead deputies to the campsite. Less than an hour after the attack, authorities spotted the lion sitting at the spot where it dropped Victoria.
"As I looked into the spotlight, I saw two orange eyes looking back at me," Bergersen said.
Wildlife officers then shot and killed the animal. It tested negative for rabies.
"Apparently, it is not uncommon for a mountain lion to return, knowing that it had injured its prey," Rosenberger said. "Given the fact that this happened, this mountain lion would most likely continue to attack the public and anything else that got in its way."
"The Martinezes did everything right and had a profound perspective
on the attack," Bergersen said. "When his son asked why this happened,
Mr. Martinez told him, 'We're in his house.' "