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

Just Posted

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Uchucklesaht Tribe purchases former Redford School

Property will be a “multi-use building” similar to The Thunderbird

Merry Makers create new craft fair for Port Alberni

Hansen Hall fair begins as Work of Heart organizers retire

Port Alberni highland dancers invited to North American competition

Kali Nahorney received honourable mention medals in two categories

VIDEO: People with diabetes meet their alert dogs

A diabetic alert dog is trained to detect low blood sugar in people who have Type 1 diabetes

Hunter who saved B.C. man pinned inside smashed truck says ‘God was sending me to him’

Sayward man describes chance discovery of Duncan Moffat, 23, in northern Vancouver Island woods

Road-weary Canucks thumped 6-2 by Wild

Vancouver hosts the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday

Toronto private school didn’t report alleged sexual assault to police

Police say a sexual assault at an all-boys Catholic institution was not reported to them

China says butt out; Canada calls for release of “arbitrarily” detained Muslims

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman accused Canada’s envoy of going beyond their diplomatic roles

Dead Saskatoon tattoo artist’s skin removed and preserved

The skin was removed in honour of the well known artist’s work

North Cowichan is Canada’s hot spot on Wednesday

The Warmland lives up to its name

B.C. Realtor suspended after helping intern forge note about sick grandma

Vancouver real estate agent Jaideep Singh Puri has to pay fine, take ethics course

Offensive Facebook post by Okanagan Conservative riding sparks outrage

Post taken down after Conservative MP in neighbouring riding condemns it and demands removal

Most Read