Placer County, California (KTXL-CNN) — The assignment that officers Monty Emery and David White received on Saturday is unlike anything they had ever experienced or expected as helicopter pilots with the California Highway Patrol.
The officers were dispatched to help a hiker, David Nash of Rocklin, who was being stalked by a mountain lion on the Stevens Trail near Colfax. The man was not able to scare the lion off. It was blocking his path two miles from the trailhead, and the sun was setting.
"You know, I shudder to think what would have happened if (Nash) wouldn't have had a cell phone…to call for help," White told FOX40.
Thankfully, Stevens Trail is a very short flight from the CHP's Air Operations Unit at the Auburn Airport. Emery and White flew from there to Nash's location on the trail. They found him frantically waving a flashlight, with the lion standing twenty-to-thirty feet in front of him. But there was no suitable place to land the helicopter.
"I'd never scared off a mountain lion before using a helicopter," said Emery. But he and White accomplished that very feat.
"We actually had to come in quite low and close to Mr. Nash for the cat to finally take off and run up the mountain," explained White. "We were able to hover over top of Mr. Nash with a bright light which is our night sun spotlight. And we stayed over the top of him until he met up with deputies further up the trail."
On Sunday, a state Fish and Wildlife warden went to the trail to put up warning signs. According to Fish and Wildlife, the lion aggressively approached the warden, and he fatally shot it.