SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. -- A 5-year-old boy is now home from the hospital after a terrifying mountain lion attack Tuesday night in an unincorporated area of the Bay Area's San Mateo County.
Wildlife wardens spent Wednesday searching for signs of the mountain lion that attacked the young boy.
"We are doing our best to try and capture the mountain lion and remove it so it can't threaten anyone else," said Capt. Patrick Foy.
Five-year-old Jack was walking with his mom and grandpa near Tunitas Creek Road when he was attacked by a mountain lion just before 7 p.m.
"Jack, being the little ball of energy that he is, got a little ahead of his mom and grandparents and must have frightened the mountain lion. Fortunately, (the animal) was a juvenile," said Amie Wagner, Jack's aunt.
"It was a pretty vicious attack. It took him to the ground and apparently was described as biting into this young child. The mom lunged at the mountain lion and before making contact with it, the lion let her son go," said Foy.
Neighbors in the area say they have seen mountain lions before but the Department of Fish and Wildlife says it's very rare that the animals attack humans.
In the hours that followed, San Francisco's KGO-TV met a resident who lives on the neighboring property from where the incident happened. He says he was the first one on scene.
"They were pretty calm when I pulled up, they're my neighbors so I asked them if they were okay. They were very... they were good. They said everybody's fine, but they had to talk to fish and game, and a warden pulled up right as I pulled out," neighbor Chad Conover said. "Typically the mountain lions avoid people, so it's not often you hear about an attack on a human."
Jack's family thinks the mountain lion was probably surprised by the boy.
According to his family, Jack was pretty bruised and beaten up overall. The sheriff says the boy has puncture wounds and the Department of Fish and Wildlife says the cougar was chewing on him.
"He has a lot of lacerations, bruising especially on his face. He has one fracture near his eye. His eye is really swollen. He's all stitched up," said Wagner.
Jack's aunt set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with medical bills.
She says Jack's parents manage an organic farm and everything they produce goes to serve people who are experiencing homelessness.
"I know it takes both of Jack's parents working very hard every day to keep the farm running. And they're going to need some extra support as they focus on his recovery," said Wagner.
Loved ones are grateful things weren't worse for Jack.
"He's a brave courageous little boy and he's going to come out of it with his spirit intact," said Wagner.
On Tuesday night, the sheriff's office released the following statement in response to the incident: "Our coastal community has endured so much these past few weeks. Our entire agency is saddened of this news and sends many warm wishes to the child for a speedy and full recovery. Our thoughts are with the family at this time."