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Friday, July 23, 2010

Woman attacked by bison: 'I thought I was going to die'

Woman attacked by bison: 'I thought I was going to die'

By Nick Valencia, CNN

(CNN) -- A woman gored by a bison at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming said she is happy to be alive days after the attack.

"I thought it was the end," Cathy Hayes told CNN by phone late Wednesday.

Hayes said she was vacationing in Yellowstone on Monday with her husband and a friend. The group was driving through the park when they spotted a bison.

"My friend is from California, and had never seen a bison before," she said. "So we pulled over and went to get a closer look."

Minutes later, the bison attacked. And it was all caught on tape.

"So we're here in the park and there's a buffalo, and he's just wandering across the road," she says in the footage.

Hayes, a native of Farr West, Utah, says they were about 30 feet away from the bison when her friend decided to get closer.

"There was another group in front of us, and I never noticed it before looking at the video on my small camera, but you can see a stick fly off the back of the bison," she said. "It looks like it came from the group that was in front of him. Before that, the bison was just chillin.'"

In the video shot from Hayes' perspective, her friend falls as he runs away from the charging bison. At that point, she says, the bison turned its attention to her.

Hayes crouched behind a tree to protect herself, but it wasn't enough.

"There was a pause when I could tell that he was backing up and getting ready to ram the tree again," Hayes said. "I thought, 'He won't ram the car,' so I made a run for it. You can probably see in the video when he got me and flung me up in the air."

Hayes' husband was in their car when the attack happened, and was able to scare the bison off by making loud noises.

"He was going to throw his cell phone at it, but it took off. It was gone as quick as it came," she said.

Luckily, Hayes did not suffer life-threatening injures, but said she is still in a lot of pain. Her knee was swollen to the size of a football, and she had minor cuts and scrapes throughout her leg.

Her friend broke his shoulder when he tripped and fell.

But for the Utah teacher, it could have been worse.

"I was waiting for black. I thought I was going to die," Hayes said.

Signs throughout Yellowstone warn visitors to not get close to wildlife.