NORTH BEND, Wash. - Members of Seattle's biking community are grieving the death of a 32-year-old man killed by a cougar as he and a friend biked near North Bend on Saturday.
Now, wildlife officials are trying to determine why the encounter with the cougar turned deadly. This is the first fatal cougar attack in the state in nearly 100 years.
The cyclist who was killed has been identified as S.J. Brooks, who moved to the Seattle area a few years ago from Boston. His friend Isaac Sederbaum, who managed to escape the big cat's jaws, is recovering at Harborview Medical Center.
“Everybody who had a chance to know SJ is heartbroken.”— Alison Grande (@AlisonKIRO7) May 22, 2018
Friends remember SJ Brooks, killed by a cougar near North Bend. At 6pm: How he worked to make cycling accessible for all. @KIRO7Seattle pic.twitter.com/oxOqVyq7P1
Sederbaum's grandmother in New York said the family is concerned about any diseases the cougar might have had.
The family is grateful for the care Sederbaum is receiving and relieved that he is recovering, but news of the attack is devastating for those who know both men, especially those who knew Brooks.
Tyler Gillies was hard at work at G & O Family Cyclery shop in Greenwood the day after the unimaginable tragedy took place. He knew and worked with S.J. Brooks for a couple of years and grew to be a dear friend.
"He moved out here from Boston not too long ago and he just ate it up out here, loved the Pacific Northwest, outdoors," Gillies said.
Gillies said Brooks was an avid cyclist and had been leading cycling trips for the last year. He would have been familiar with the Lake Hancock forest area where he and Sederbaum were riding Saturday.
"I have so many friends that ride out there all the time," Gillies said. "I do the same thing myself. It is a perfectly safe and wonderful thing to do. And S.J. was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I'm just crushed."
"I'm just going to miss the heck out of S.J.," Gillies said.
The cougar was trapped and euthanized after the attack.
Capt. Alan Myers, of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said that is standard protocol.
"Absolutely," he said. "An animal that attacks and kills human beings is going to be euthanized."
Myers said today that the cougar, a male, weighing 100 pounds, was emaciated. The department is trying to figure out why he so uncharacteristically attacked two humans.
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