Investigation continues in rare cougar attack, young victim released from ICU

FRUITLAND, Wash. — The Department of Fish and Wildlife is still trying to piece together why a young male cougar would attack a young girl camping in Stevens County.

WDFW says the cougar did not have rabies. They thought this could have triggered the attack, but the carcass is still being dissected. Experts are now looking for any signs of injury, sickness or malnutrition.

The attack happened nestled in the wooded paradise of Stevens county when three friends were playing hide and go seek. The activity ended with one girl on the brink of death.

“At first I thought she was dead,” said Ivan Zhuk.

He ran to the girl’s rescue when her two other friends made it back to the campsite.

“She was laying not moving or basically anything, just like dead,” Zhuk said.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife says Lily Kryzhanivskyy jumped out to surprise her friends when the cougar jumped at her. It’s now dead thanks to the adults who ran to the rescue.

“In this instance, this little girl did nothing wrong,” said Staci Lehman, a communications manager for WDFW. “It happened so quickly, and there’s nothing she could have done to prevent it.”

At just 9-years-old, this little warrior joins a small group of survivors. Another Washington man survived a different cougar attack in 1996.

“I pulled his head off of his chest, but my thumb went in the back of his mouth. He knocked my thumbnail off,” he said. “Then when I go up in between as I kicked him off, one claw caught me in the webbing of my hand and then I ran down to the trailhead and he ran that way.”

Before Lily’s encounter, the state’s only recorded 19 cougar attacks that injured humans in the past 100 years.

“You have a better chance of being bitten by your neighbor’s dog or something like that, very rare just completely random,” Lehman said.

She doesn’t want people to be scared exploring the wilderness but is encouraging you to carry bear spray outdoors.

Lily has a long road to recovery but appears to be up to the challenge.

“I hope she’s going to be alright,” Zhuk exclaimed.

You can support Lily and her family during this ordeal and recovery HERE.

READ: ‘In my mind forever’: Young girl recovering after cougar attack, rescuer describes discovery