California mountain lion attack victims are brothers, outdoorsmen

Two avid outdoorsmen were identified Monday as the victims of a mountain lion in Northern California this weekend, the first fatal cougar attack in the Golden State in two decades.

Taylor Robert Claude Brooks, 21, died in the attack, and his brother Wyatt J. Charles Brooks, 18, was seriously injured but will survive, the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office said.

The Brooks brothers, both of Mt., in southern El Dorado County, grew up together in Northern California's scenic Gold Country and regularly hunted and fished, according to a Brooks family statement shared by the sheriff's office.

“These two young men were closer than any two brothers could have been, enjoying the outdoors and living a full dynamic life,” the report said. “We are all devastated by the tragic loss of Taylon, but grateful Wyatt is still with us and knowing full well that the outcome could have been much worse.”

Deputies responded to a call Saturday from Wyatt Brooks that he and his brother had been attacked by a mountain lion in a remote area of ​​Georgetown in northern El Dorado County, where they were combing the woods for deer antlers, authorities said.

Wyatt Brooks suffered “traumatic injuries” to his face and was separated from his brother during the attack, according to a news release from the sheriff's office. Emergency responders first located and began treating Wyatt Brooks' brother before finding the mountain lion crouched next to his brother's body. Officers fired at the animal.

State Department of Fish and Wildlife officials and an El Dorado County engineer later shot and killed the mountain lion, which was “in close proximity” to where the attack occurred, said Sgt. Kyle Parker, with the Sheriff's Office. “The animal's body has been taken for an autopsy to determine why the attack occurred,” Parker said.

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Dylan Brooks worked with his father painting houses and chopping wood.

“He truly enjoyed fishing and was a very talented guitar player,” the family said in the statement. “He was a very kind and gentle soul and will be deeply missed by all who knew him.”

Plans for the memorial have not yet been finalized, the family said Monday.

Wyatt Brooks, a trainee firefighter, underwent multiple surgeries for his injuries and is expected to make a full recovery, officials said.

Jarrod Kline, a close friend of the Brooks family who is acting as a family spokesman, told The Times that Wyatt Brooks is recovering at home.

“It's going to be a long road, but he's home with his family,” Kline said. “It's incomprehensible, it's unbelievable.”

The Brooks family has set up a Online fundraiser In memory of Dylan Brooks and in support of Wyatt Brooks.

“I know we live in the countryside [mountain lions] are around. … It's very unfortunate and it hits home,” Kline said. In recent years, spots of mountain lions in the local community have “exploded,” he said.

Deadly animal attacks Very rareBut wildlife officials say encounters between humans and mountain lions are expected to increase as the cats' habitat shrinks and people continue to build into forested areas.

The state's last known fatal attack by a mountain lion was in 2004 when a cougar killed 35-year-old bicyclist Mark Reynolds in Orange County. In 1994, another attack occurred in El Dorado County, when Barbara Schoener, a jogger, was killed on a trail in the Sierra foothills.

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