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CHP helicopter pilots help save hiker from mountain lion

February 21, 2013 | 11:52 am

It took some quick thinking and work by two CHP helicopter pilots to save a hiker from a mountain lion near Colfax, officials said.

Officers Monty Emery and David White were dispatched Saturday to help hiker David Nash, of Rocklin, who was being stalked by a mountain lion on the Stevens Trail in Placer County.

Nash was unable to scare off the lion, which 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 cellphone…to call for help,” White told Fox40 in Sacramento.

Stevens Trail is a 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 20 to 30 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,” Emery said.

They had to fly in low and close to Nash for the mountain lion to take off and run up the mountain, White said.

”We were able to hover over the top of Mr. Nash with a bright light, which is our night sun spotlight," White said. "And we stayed over the top of him until he met up with deputies further up the trail.”

A state Fish and Wildlife warden went to the trail Sunday to put up warning signs, but when the lion aggressively approached him, he shot and killed it, according to department officials.

-- Dennis Shanahan, Fox40 Sacramento