Hiker injured fleeing mountain lion


by Jennifer Thomas

Video report by Marie Saavedra

Posted on August 15, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Updated Sunday, Aug 18 at 2:43 PM

Map: Catalina State Park

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TUCSON, Ariz. – An 18-year-old hiker was rescued from Catalina State Park near Tucson Wednesday morning after he reportedly was injured while trying to get away from a mountain lion.

Nick Nasca said he and his girlfriend encountered a mountain lion while hiking near Romero Pools. He said it got way too close for comfort and he fell trying to get away.

"At one point he got into a pouncing position and later on when he was getting really, really close to us, about 5 feet, that's when he started showing teeth," Nasca said.

According to Nasca's Facebook page, he fell off of a 20-foot cliff. His girlfriend was not injured.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department Search and Rescue Unit and the Golder Ranch Technical Rescue Team responded to the area. They discovered Nasca had a serious shoulder injury and could not be moved.

A sheriff's department helicopter was called in to assist with the rescue. Nasca was put on a stretcher, hoisted to the helicopter and flown to a landing zone where he was transferred to an ambulance.

Nasca is recovering from injuries to his head, shoulder and leg.

"It's the scariest thing of my life, you know, I never thought I'd be scared of a mountain lion or animal in general," he said.

Watch video of the rescue below.

It was the second mountain lion sighting in Arizona in as many days.

On Tuesday night, Peoria police were forced to kill a young mountain lion after it began stalking people and pets near Lake Pleasant Parkway and Happy Valley Road.

One woman said she was watching TV one moment then saw the animal staring at her from her back door the next.

The mountain lion then jumped into a neighbor's yard to check out their dogs.

Officials from the Arizona Game and Fish Department believe it was separated from its mother, couldn't hunt on its own and was looking for food.

They said killing the animal was the only option.

"When you've got a big predator like this in a neighborhood with children and stuff, that's exactly the right thing that needs to be done," said Randy Babb with Arizona Game and Fish. "You can't take chances with people's lives and health."