Conservation Service Chief Kelly Larkin

Conservation Service Chief Kelly Larkin

Alberni cougar attack victim awarded for bravery

An Alberni boy who survived a cougar attack was acknowledged for his bravery and given special recognition by the BC Conservation Service.

A Port Alberni boy who survived a cougar attack last summer was acknowledged for his bravery and given special recognition by the BC Conservation Service.

Conservation officials presented Kaylum Doherty, 8, with a certificate of bravery and a service medal in a special ceremony at the BC Conservation office in Port Alberni. Doherty’s father Rick and Bobbi Jo Shafer were presented with bravery awards as well.

“The family experienced a lot of physical and emotional trauma as a result of the event,” Conservation Service Chief Kelly Larkin said. “Even getting to safety was a challenge they had to fight through.”

The arc of events began on Aug. 15 when Doherty and his parents were camping at the Taylor Flats section of Sproat Lake. Kaylum was attacked and by an adult cougar and left with puncture wounds to his head, back and arm.

Kaylum’s parents fought the animal off then loaded the profusely bleeding boy into the family car after finding there was no cellphone reception. The car broke down just as they called 9-1-1. “Kaylum stayed calm through the whole thing,” Shafer said. “We were the ones who were panicking.”

Kaylum remembered the incident clearly. “I remember when the cougar grabbed me and bit me. I was breathing really hard in the ambulance,” he said.

Kaylum has since expressed an interest in becoming a conservation officer, officials said. “It’s important to recognize people’s bravery in the face of adversity,” Larkin said. “Kaylum is a symbol for the conservation service, and a good spokesperson at school.”

Conservation officers found and put down the animal that attacked Kaylum. A subsequent necropsy revealed it weighed half as much as it should have and was likely starving.

.Rick accepted his award with humility saying his actions weren’t out of the ordinary. “I did what any other father would have done in the same situation,” he said.

During the recounting of the event, Rick choked back tears and began tremoring while listening. “It’s like reliving it and I never want to experience something like that again,” he said. “My son is better and safer now though, and that’s what’s important.”

Kaylem’s long road to recovery has nearly ended, Rick said. The boy’s nightmares are fewer and he’s begun to venture into the backyard, Rick said. “It helps that we have a couple of dogs back there now,” he said.

The event has had an impact on Richard and Bobbi-Jo’s relationship. Counselling has been slow in coming to deal with the trauma of the incident and the couple has separated. “That (lack of counselling) played a role in our separation,” Shafer said.

The family hasn’t been back to where the attack took place. Nevertheless, they will go camping again, Doherty said. “I grew up outdoors and I don’t want Kaylum to miss out on those experiences because of that experience,” Doherty said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Logging Camp Nine on Great Central Lake overlooks a large forest fire across the lake in this historical photo from May 1943. Camp Nine was bustling, with residences for logging camp staff, a rail line and rail cars visible. This is one of 24,000 photos contained in the Alberni Valley Museum’s digital archives, available for public viewing at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN12220 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)
LOOK BACK: Great Central Lake’s sawmill

Take a peek at Alberni Valley history with the Alberni Vally Museum

Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ goalie Luke Pearson stopped all 22 shots the Cowichan Capitals sent his way to collect a 5–0 shutout in B.C. Hockey League action, Saturday, April 10, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BCHL: Pearson earns shutout in Bulldogs’ win over Cowichan Capitals

Alberni Valley will face Victoria Grizzlies Sunday, April 11 at 3 p.m.

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Princess Elizabeth and her new husband, Prince Philip—behind the wheel—visited the Alberni Valley on the princess's inaugural visit to Canada. A photographer with Charnell Studios in Port Alberni captured the young newlyweds along the parade route on Oct. 25, 1951, months before Princess Elizabeth became Queen. Prince Philip died April 9, 2021, just shy of his 100th birthday. This photo is one of 24,000 in the Alberni Valley Museum's online archives, available for public viewing at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN 13605 COURTESY OF ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)
LOOK BACK: Prince Philip and his new bride visit Port Alberni

A special look back with the Alberni Valley Museum to honour the life of Prince Philip

John Ambrose Seward, 33, is described as Indigenous and five-foot-eight with short black hair and brown eyes. (Police handout)
John Ambrose Seward, 33, is described as Indigenous and five-foot-eight with short black hair and brown eyes. (Police handout)
High-risk sex offender banned from central Island, living in Vancouver: police

John Ambrose Seward, 33, has been released from prison under a number of conditions

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read