Man Made Frantic 911 Call After Fatal Cougar Attack
(SHERWOOD, Ore.) — The owner of an Oregon wildcat sanctuary where the head keeper was mauled to death by two cougars made a frantic call to 911 during a desperate bid to pull his employee out of the enclosure.
“I have a keeper at WildCat Haven that was attacked,” owner Mike Tuller told the 911 operator. “I think she’s dead but please hurry.”
Tuller discovered the body of Renee Radziwon-Chapman, 36, inside one of the cat’s cages Saturday evening at the WildCat Haven Sanctuary in Sherwood, Ore. The dramatic 911 calls were released Wednesday.
“She’s in the cat enclosure. I’m going down to get her out if I can,” a panicked Tuller said.
Tuller became hysterical as he approached the enclosure and pulled Radziwon-Chapman’s lifeless body to safety. Tuller did not heed the dispatcher’s warning about entering the cage.
“I don’t want you to get hurt,” the dispatcher said.
“I hear what you’re saying,” Tuller replied before yelling at the cougars to get back.
“You think she is beyond hope?” the operator asked.
“That’s the same question I asked, but yes, I do,” Tuller replied.
Radziwon-Chapman, who worked at the sanctuary for eight years, died from multiple bite injuries, with the most severe wounds around her head and neck, Dr. Christopher Young, a forensic pathologist for the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office, told ABC News earlier this week.
One of the cougars still had blood visible on its nose when authorities arrived at the scene, police said.
Authorities said they believe Radziwon-Chapman was not only alone at the sanctuary, but was also alone in the animals’ enclosure at the time of the attack, which is against safety recommendations, facility officials said in a statement.
“The sanctuary’s handbook specifies that ‘two qualified staff members shall work together during the lock out of dangerous animals. Once the animals are locked out, one staff member can safely enter the enclosure to clean or make repairs,'” the statement said.
The sanctuary’s executive director, Cheryl Tuller, said in a statement that “at no time was any cat outside its primary containment enclosure,” which are surrounded by 14-foot tall walls of six-gauge wire.
But Radziwon-Chapman’s family tells ABC News that she recently complained to the owners about being left to work by herself.
WildCat Haven Sanctuary has not returned ABC News’ request for comment about the family’s claims, but said in a statement they’re cooperating with state and federal investigators.
“Renee’s life was taken so suddenly and tragically while doing the very thing that she cared so much about,” the family said in a statement earlier this week. “Her passion, spirit, kindness and warmth were felt by all who knew her.”
Radziwon-Chapman is survived by her husband, Aaron Chapman, their 5-month-old daughter, Noa Elise Chapman, and their many rescue dogs and cats, the statement said.
Aaron Chapman created a GoFundMe.com support page in remembrance of his wife. People can also donate to ensure the woman’s baby girl “can follow her dreams much like her mother did,” according to the website.
“Renee’s spirit will continue to live on through her beautiful daughter Noa,” the family said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio