Annie Bilotta, Tisch Schmidt-Williams, Aune Tietz, and Erica Wolf

Five women, all part of the same cycling team, were riding on a remote, forest trail near Fall City, Washington, on Feb. 17, 2024, when a cougar lunged at 60-year-old Keri Bergere, jumped onto her back, pushing her off her bicycle into a ditch. The juvenile male cougar that weighed about 75 pounds, proceeded to bite into Bergere’s jaw and insert its claws into her neck and shoulders. A second cougar was spotted, but it ran off before the attack started. Riding approximately 200 feet behind Bergere was retired gardener Annie Bilotta, 64, and real estate broker Aune Tietz, 59, both from Seattle, who witnessed the cougar attack. Bilotta and Tietz screamed and immediately biked to Bergere. This alerted two other riders who were in front of Bergere, Seattle attorney Erica Wolf, 51, and salesperson Tisch Schmidt-Williams, 58, from North Bend, Washington. They both had not seen the attack. Bilotta approached the cougar and immediately jumped on the animal. Tietz arrived around the same time and was able to pull the cougar’s hind legs off Bergere. Bilotta and Tietz yelled to their teammates up ahead to call 911 and grab rocks and sticks to help. Schmidt-Williams ran over with a small rock and a few sticks, and she began to fight the animal. Wolf walked over with her bike next to her and attempted to call 911, but the call dropped in the remote area. Wolf discarded her phone and bicycle, retrieved a stick, and also began to fight the cougar. Bilotta pulled one of the animal’s paws off of Bergere and stuck her hand into its mouth, hoping to pry open its jaw to release her friend. The four women battled the cougar for 15 minutes. As the cougar started to readjust its bite, Bilotta shouted for Bergere to move away as Tietz pulled the animal’s head back. As Bergere rolled away, Wolf almost simultaneously picked up her bicycle and the four women worked together to pin the cougar to the ground with it. The women then stood on the bicycle for another 30 minutes. At some point, two other cyclists arrived and helped hold the cougar down. They stood on top of the bicycle until a fish and wildlife officer arrived and shot and killed the cougar. Bergere was taken to a hospital for multiple jaw fractures, facial nerve damage, and lacerations on her face, ears, neck, shoulders, arms, and back. Each of the four women sustained minor cuts or bruises but were otherwise uninjured and recovered.