Family Stalked by Two Mountain Lions Rescued by Helicopter

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

The hikers say one of the cougars was huge

A Texas family hiking in Colorado with their baby had to be rescued by helicopter from two mountain lions that were stalking them.

According to, Will and Rylea Sadler were hiking in the Purgatory area with their 11-month-old daughter, Millie, when Rylea spotted the first mountain lion.

“I just grabbed Will and said, ‘There’s an animal! There’s an animal!’” Rylea says.

“She heard this noise behind us,” Will says. “And she turned around and there was this big ole mountain lion 10 to 15 feet behind us.”

Rylea and Will, who had Millie strapped in a backpack on his back, slowly backed away from the cat.

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“This thing was huge. It’s bigger than any cat I’ve seen at the zoo. Its head was as big as a football,” Will says. “As it was walking, you could see the muscles going up over its shoulder blades.”

The family of three retreated into a meadow, where Millie began to cry. With nowhere to go, they called 911. Then, they spotted a second mountain lion. 

“It was noticeably smaller, but it was still really big,” Will says. “The smaller one could have taken us.”

The couple says they sat in the meadow and waved sticks and brush in the air to keep the mountain lions from approaching.

Rescuers sent in Flight for Life from Durango’s Mercy Hospital.

“The flight nurses and the pilot were phenomenal and totally validated how we felt,” Rylea said.

Will says he will be more prepared during their next hiking trip.

“I’m going to carry around some bear spray or something. I’ve never felt so helpless before," he says.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson Jason Clay, mountain lion sightings are not uncommon in the state. “It’s an aspect of Colorado,” he says. “We have strong mountain lion populations in Colorado.”

While attacks are rare, they do happen. Since 1990, there have been 25 attacks in the state.

Clay says if you encounter a mountain lion, you should remain calm and never run. “You want to face the lion and make eye contact so it knows you’ve seen it.”

He says Will and Rylea did the right thing.

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