Something Bit Me (2022–…): Season 1, Episode 5 - Everything Went Dark... - full transcript

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REPORTERS: There is that satellite
picture. Across the Atlantic.
Tropical storm Chris swirls offshore.
(lighting strikes)
Tropical storm Chris is 200 miles away.
We get some swells across that region.
Heavy rain, heavy wind. You'd look out
there, you'd never know
there is a 70 mile per hour wind storm
out there.
That's going to cause an awful amount of
havoc across the area of North Carolina.
(wind wirling)
NARRATOR: July, 2018.
Wrightsville Beach, a small sleepy town
off the coast of North Carolina
in a popular surf spot.
John Cheshire has been surfing here since
he was a kid.
JOHN: My buddies, they
all call me Johnny Chesh.
I grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina.
I got a family. I got a beautiful wife.
My Michael, and I've got my daughter,
James, and my son lion.
I've been surfing ever since I was a
little kid.
My dad surfed. My brother surfed.
Uhh, it's part of our family.
I've known Andrew for about
20 years, served,
did all the crazy things growing
up together.
I call him Chesh. He's always
just really stoked.
He'll call me and say, Man,
the waves are firing.
Then, I'll at the report
and it's barely knee-high.
So, he's got a lot of
energy, which is fun.
John is one of my best bros. Good guy.
Love him to death.
(intense music)
ANDREW: We knew that we were going to surf
together this day because we were watching
this tropical storm, Chris, that was off
the coast. Those are our wave-makers.
JOHN: You look at the forecast as a
surfer.
That's what you, you know, you want waves.
You're checking it probably three to four
times a day.
BOB: Most of the action is going to be in
the form of big waves today.
That's what you're going to
find around the outer banks.
Three to six footers, maybe building up to
about seven or eight by late this evening.
JOHN: We saw this system coming up, and
you get, like, maybe a two to three hour
window where the waves are
peaking and are really good.
So, when it's on, you've got to go.
And so, the plan was just to get with the
boys, hop on the boat,
cruise over to the island, and then surf
for a couple of hours,
and, you know, come home healthy.
That's was the ultimate plan.
NARRATOR: Their prime surf spot that day
is an isolated nature reserve
only accessible by boat.
I've got a 23 foot Sea Hunt boat.
JOHN: It was me, Andrew, a buddy, Sean
Rudkay. And then, my buddy Stanky P.
ANDREW: Chesh is just really stoked.
Stanky P was just stank.
And, you know, that's my surfing buddies.
NARRATOR: With no roads on the island,
they anchor offshore and navigate
its windy trails to get to their hard to
reach surf spot.
The trail winds. I've got my board shorts
on.
I don't wear a rash guard, or I didn't
wear a rash guard then.
And, I was coming right off the main
trail,
first thing I saw was just this beautiful
A-frame peak.
(waves crashing)
And, we were all just frothing.
JOHN: Surfing is probably the most selfish
sport in the world
because it's all about you, you're
catching waves.
And so, once you get over the trailhead,
it's like, Alright, see you guys.
JOHN: It was beautiful, it was sunny. Not
a cloud in the sky. There was no wind.
The swell was in the water. Water
temperature was gorgeous.
It's like bath water. You
can't script it any better.
NARRATOR: The topical storm swell
has water temperatures in the mid 80s
Fahrenheit.
Conditions attracting not only surfer, but
other sea life as well.
JOHN: That particular day,
though, the waves were good.
We get out there. We start catching waves,
having a blast.
Chesh is a very animated individual.
If he's catching waves, he'll let you know
he's catching them.
But, I do recall Chesh, you know, having a
hard time getting waves.
JOHN: At first, I wasn't catching really
many good waves.
It was kind of frustrating. Like, they
were barely missing me.
So, I was scouting, you know, kind of,
like, going from one peak
to the next peak to try to,
you know, find the rhythm.
So, I was like, you know, I was cruising.
I was paddling.
Typically, you know, you want to be just
behind the peak of the wave.
And then, all of a sudden, I see it.
There was this peak coming up and I was
kind of getting into position.
It's perfect. I remember I was
paddling and paddling.
When you're paddling, you know,
water is pushing up, hitting your chest
the whole time.
You're also creating the corral.
You know, almost a cove.
So, I'm paddling and, out of nowhere, pop.
(dramatic music starts)
JOHN: Oh, I got hit. It was like a bolt
of lightning.
Instantaneously knocked off my surfboard.
Could hardly breathe.
Seeing stars, thought I was going to
black out.
JOHN: I screamed out as loud as I could.
Help!
(screaming)
After I heard him kind of yell and
flail, my first reaction was,
yeah, he just got bit. It is a sharky
area.
Didn't see it.
You've got sharks in the water, you've got
all different kinds of creatures
that can inadvertently hurt you.
NARRATOR: Unfortunately for John, the
coastal waters off North Carolina
are home to many dangerous species of sea
animals, including Tiger sharks,
Stingrays, jellyfish, and moray eels.
I said, Chesh, you alright man?
And, he didn't respond, but he got
back on his board.
I didn't see any blood and he had all his
limbs. So, I was like I guess he's okay.
The second it hit
me, my world had changed.
Immediately, I sat up, and so when I sat
up in the board,
I went to grab whatever it was.
And, as I pulled it off, the rest of it
wrapped me down my chest here.
(shrieks of pain)
It was like someone taking, like, a coat
hanger and putting it in a fire, and then,
just like, sticking me with it constantly.
JOHN: I've never felt pain like
that before.
And, I thought to myself, I went, Jeez,
that was a gnarly Man O War.
NARRATOR: The Portuguese Man O War.
A close relative of the jellyfish, most
commonly found in tropical
and subtropical seas around the world.
The Man O War uses long tentacles to
capture and kill small fish
and crustaceans, injecting them with a
powerful venom.
Doctor Angel Yanagihara is an associate
research professor at the
University of Hawaii and has been studying
jellyfish for over 20 years.
DR YANAGIHARA: In that area, at that time
of the year, there are sea nettles,
there are Man O War, there
are other small jellies.
Because this was in July, this is really
almost the peak season,
because the waters are warm and they have
plenty of plankton, small fish to feed on.
So, John thinks it's a Man O War.
The one in the Atlantic can
grow up to a foot and a half.
There glorious clear bubble sails
that have vibrant pink and purple on this
frilly top.
And, they have long tentacles that they
can relax and contract.
They're basically fishing, so
they're lurers.
And, these tentacles expand fantastic
depths. People have said 200 feet.
When they contract, you can imagine if
your body comes in contact with that much
contracted tentacles, and there is
hundreds of these,
that could inflict an extremely
painful wound.
JOHN: All I could think about was, I need
to get to the beach.
Like, I'm going to pass out in the water
if I don't get to the beach.
- And, if I pass out, I'm going to drown.
- He just took off.
Honestly, I just thought he was
taking a break.
I was afraid of having a heart attack
and, like,
body shutting down completely.
That's how bad the pain was.
The really remarkable thing
about these swimming jellies,
the whole tentacle, you look under the
microscope,
you see these really tiny dots.
Each of those is an pneumatosis.
When they fire, they individually blow
out, like a ballistic arrowhead,
which can pierce through the prey, and
then inject into the body venom.
This is, kind of, the worst nightmare,
especially when you're off from the shore.
Your life could be at risk because
you're in a foreign marine environment.
NARRATOR: As John struggles to stay above
water, the effects on his body escalate.
His mind, somewhere else.
JOHN: Really, the only thing through my
mind was
I wanted to get home to my family.
Make sure that dad was going to be home
for my little ones.
I didn't want this to be the way that I
went out.
(screams)
(intense music)
TRAVIS: I love running cause it is
meditative.
Focus on your breathing.
Focus on the sound of your
foot hitting the gravel.
Focus on the smells in the air and the
sounds that you're hearing.
It's really peaceful.
NARRATOR: Fort Collins, Colorado. A small
city at the base of the Rocky Mountains.
It's temperate climate and scenic beauty
make it a magnet
for people who love outdoor recreation.
People like Travis Kauffman, who enjoy
running its vast, rugged trails.
My name is Travis Kauffman. I'm an
analytical chemist. I'm an introvert.
I really enjoy the time
where I get to be by myself.
Running is the ultimate sport for
introverts.
Annie, my girlfriend at the time, and I,
because we were living so close to the
Foothills Trail, start running a ton.
And, get convinced to do this 50k race.
And, know that I need to start training,
big time.
And so, I really get into some more
dedicated long runs with a lot of
elevation.
So, that morning, it was
really sunny and really nice.
Just perfect running weather. I go up
thinking that I'm going to do a 15 miles
loop with a really good elevation gain.
NARRATOR: Travis begins his run at the
bottom of Lory State Park.
His plan is to climb over to the top of
Horsetooth Mountain
via a trail called Towers.
And so, I get to the bottom of Towers,
kind of stepping through mud.
I don't have any ear buds in.
Really important, for me, to kind of run
without any sort of distraction.
There is some rock drops and you need to
have all your senses available to
effectively negotiate the terrain.
I actually get up to the top, maybe a half
hour later.
And, I felt pretty decent after having
done the big climb.
I look at the view that
overlooks all, like,
the western aspect of the front range,
and you can just see the Foothills, and
it's just a really nice view.
And, at that point, I look down.
(screeching tone)
And, I see a bunch of paw prints,
and I just figured these paw
prints were dog paw prints,
because people go up there
with their dogs all the time.
And, I just decide, you know what, I'm
going to take it easy.
I'm going to turn back.
So, I'm heading south and picking up
speed, feeling really good.
Have a few slips.
And, about a quarter mile in,
I hear a twig snap behind me.
And then, the rustle of pine needles.
(rustling)
And, I just totally figured
it was going to be a deer.
Anytime you hear something, any rustling,
it's always a deer. (chuckle)
But, it's a very technical trail in
front of me,
so it's good to not avert your gaze
whenever
you're running down these rocking section,
or you'll trip and really hurt yourself.
But, in the back of my
mind, I have this curiosity.
And, I decide to turn my
head. And, what I saw was
a mountain lion chasing me.
NARRATOR: The mountain lion, one of the
most dominant
apex predators in North America. An
incredibly strong, fast and agile hunter.
It's numbers in the United States have
been increasing in recent years.
And, according to Dr Mat Alldredge, so are
their encounters with humans.
One of the most common
questions I get about mountain lions are,
How many are out there? And so, on
average,
there is three to four adult, independent
mountain lions per 100 square kilometer.
So, this Horsetooth area, you could
have four or five independent adult lions
that utilize it, plus some dependent
young.
Historically, there has been very little
human mountain lion conflict.
But, we've seen, in the past 20 or 30
years,
that that conflict has been increasing,
partly due to the amount of humans
inhabiting lion habitats,
because lion habitat happens to be where a
lot of humans want to live,
and we're developing these areas.
So, there is this huge overlap with where
we live and where we recreate.
The opportunity for conflict is there
everyday, yet it's still pretty rare.
(intense msuic)
TRAVIS: It's probably 15, 20 yards away.
Over the course of a second or two, it
closes that distance really quickly.
I want to run and get
the hell out of here.
But, I remember certain things that I've
heard about mountain lion attacks.
Like, whatever you do, don't run.
So, I throw my hands in the
air and I start yelling.
I think I kept on just saying, No, over
and over again.
No, no, no, no, no, no!
Travis's instincts were very good.
What you wanted to try to
do is intimidate a lion.
You want to be face to face with him, so
you can protect yourself.
You want to look big. You want to be calm.
You want to back away.
But, mountain lions
are really fast.
Their top speed can be, you know, 40 miles
an hour or better.
So, you don't want to try to run from a
lion. They're going to catch you.
TRAVIS: It's still approaching me.
And then, I kind of box
up and protect my face,
and I realize it wasn't going to be veer
off course
and it was just coming right at me.
(rustling)
It's like those moments you have, if
you ever get into an accident,
or, you know, a bike wreck.
There is that split second
where you just know this is going to hurt
and there is really
nothing I can do about it.
(snarling)
The cat jumps onto me and latches onto my
wrist with its mouth.
The cat is on me and it's thrashing and
pawing at my shoulders and back.
And then, the cat slashed across my face.
And, I just think, That was really
close to my eye.
So, Travis turns around. Luckily, he
was able to hear as
so many people run with ear buds in,
and then you would never know what's
approaching.
So, he recognizes and knows immediately
what to do when the lion pounces at him.
And, luckily, Travis puts his arms up to
block, which was a smart thing to do.
And, the lion grabs a hold of his arms.
We can assume that this lion was probably
going for the throat,
which would be typical of how they prey,
and they don't prey on humans, so the lion
doesn't also know where to target.
The instinct is I chase, and then when I
can catch it, I pounce.
I grab a hold.
At that point, I finally have this
awakening moment.
I need to do something. And, instead of
doing the rational thing,
I try to just throw this cat off of me.
(cat growls)
TRAVIS: Unfortunately, the left side of
the trail is the downward slop of it.
I realize, as I try to throw this cat off,
it's jaws are still wrapped
around my wrist and hand.
And, I just kind of get taken with it.
The momentum carries us
both down this hillside.
We tumble 15 feet or so.
Luckily, I end up on top of the cat.
And, the whole time, my wrist is still
firmly gripped in its mouth.
And, I just get on top of it, and I'm
looking around for anything I can use
to try to get it off.
(cat growls)
NARRATOR: Off the coast of North Carolina,
surfer John Cheshire was struck
by what he believes to be a Portuguese
Man O War,
and is struggling to get to shore.
JOHN: There was such a haze. I
was so dazed, so confused, agonizing pain.
And then, also, compounded by the fact
that I'm 100 yards offshore
and I got to get back into shore.
I had so much adrenaline in me.
That, with the pain, just my body was in
full survival mode.
A Man O War sting on an adult
man, basically,
it's going to be site pain, a little bit
of inflammation, and that's about it.
But, for him, an adult man, to feel this
degree of pain,
danger of blacking out, pain over ten.
All of these things, it doesn't really
seem consistent with the Man O War.
All I was looking to do was just scratch
into a wave.
Just white water just to push me into
the shore. I finally got one. I got in.
And, at that point, I roll off my
surfboard and I'm like
thank goodness I'm on land.
At that point in time, I knew that
something wasn't right,
(water splashes)
mechanically inside, with the way my body
was functioning.
And, all I could think about
was I got to exfoliate this.
So, I start taking stand and I start
scrubbing my body down,
just to try to get the tentacles out.
DR YANAGIHARA: So, it makes perfect sense
that his first instinct is to exfoliate,
you know, remove that surface of the skin.
Something that's causing him pain.
But, unfortunately, in this instance, it's
completely counterproductive because,
when these tentacles lash across
one's skin,
the tentacles are lined with thousands of
these tiny pneumatosis
capable of injecting the venom.
But, when the tentacle leaves the body,
many of these pneumatosis has left on
their skin. They haven't yet discharged.
So, there are, like, so many ticking
time bombs.
So, by putting pressure onto the skin,
(yells)
he's basically pulling the grenade pin off
thousands of these microscopic time bombs,
and they're all injecting their venom.
And now, things are much worse.
JOHN: All I could think about was my body
was disintegrating.
I can't breathe. I feel like I'm going to
pass out.
I knew I needed to go to the hospital.
But, the first person I see, luckily for
me, is my friend Guyan.
And, he sees me rolling around. And, it
was like, Guyan, I got hit by a jellyfish.
He's like, I don't think this is your
typical jellyfish.
I can't breathe. You've got to
help me out.
You know, he looked at me and
he could see it in my eyes.
- The first initial thing was, he was like.
- Yeah, we're going to have to pee on you.
- Pee on me, man?
- Yeah, man. I mean, that's all we got.
JOHN: You know, you hear that, you know.
It's like, you know, pee apparently
neutralizes the sting.
I was like, Hold on, y'all aren't actually
going to pee on me.
You can pee in a bottle and I'll put it on
me.
(painfully shrieks)
It was warm, and gross, but that
point in time,
I mean, I would have really
done pretty much anything.
But, I think it actually made it worse.
Pouring the urine definitely isn't
helping.
(grunts)
In fact, there is evidence that this can
make things worse.
His friends are actually wasting time, and
that constitutes a type of harm,
because it's very important that he get
proper help as quickly as possible.
NARRATOR: With John's pain increasing by
the second,
Guyan waves in Andrew and the rest of
the group.
GUYAN: Andrew!
And so, he goes to the shoreline and
is screaming for Andrew.
ANDREW: I heard, Andrew! I got a wave in
and saw Chesh hunched over.
Now, I went up to him and said, "Chesh,
you alright, man? What's going on?"
And, he said, "Man, I got lit up and I got
stung by something bad."
I said, "Alright, well what do you want to
do?"
And, he like, I got to get out of here.
I didn't want to discount what had
happened, but
we get stung out there a lot.
I tried to help him shake it off, and just
say, Bro, you're going to be fine,
let's get back out there. It's really fun.
First, he told me to suck it up. You know,
he was like, It's just a jellyfish sting.
It looked like somebody had just whipped
him pretty hard with a whip.
It was definitely red, and raised, and
blistery. It was pretty bad.
I told him that this isn't the
typical jellyfish.
I feel like I'm going to die. I got to get
to the hospital.
John's one of my best bros and when he
told me,
I'm about to die, you know, it got real.
I immediately went from okay, not a big
deal, to
well let's make sure you don't die.
NARRATOR: In the foothills above Fort
Collins, Colorado,
Travis Kauffman is wrestling with a
mountain lion.
The animal's powerful jaws have one of
Travis's arms and won't let go.
At that moment, I just start scanning
and I see a rock.
It's within arm's reach, but I realize
that I have one had inside of its mouth,
and then to grab the rock with the other
hand,
I'd have to let my had off of the cat's
back legs.
In that moment, in the
back of my mind,
I remember that I had been a cat owner for
about six months.
And so, playing with my cat, Obie, I
always remember him getting on his back,
and then he'll do these little thrash
movements and try to scratch out.
So, Obie taught me that, once you get a
cat on its back,
you're definitely not in any sort of
advantageous position.
I was just thinking, if I let my left arm
free to go get a rock,
this thing is going to thrash
out my groin or my gut.
DR ALLDREDGE: There are some similarities
between house cats and mountain lions,
and how they behave, and probably don't
like being placed on their back
because it's not a safe position for them.
Travis not only has to be aware of the
teeth that are clenched to his forearm
at this point, but the four feet with
these razor sharp claws,
probably half an inch long, and can cut
him to shreds really quickly.
You know, he's three miles from
the trailhead.
He's definitely got to get this animal
away from him and get that under control
before he gets hurt more seriously.
TRAVIS: So, I was able to kind of get some
weight onto its back legs with my left leg
while I try to grab a rock.
Actually, a really big rock, and it's
really hard to lift up.
So, I try to pick it up.
I have the cat locked onto my wrist, and
then I
try to hit it on the back of the head,
so it will release my wrist. And, I give
it a second hit.
Instead of releasing, it actually bites
down harder.
You know, I'm thinking, Oh man, okay. This
isn't going to work.
For the life of me, I cannot get this
thing off of my wrist.
It has the instinct to try to hold on as
hard as it can and not let go.
When lions prey on deer and elk,
they go for the throat and they try to
suffocate something.
They're holding onto an animal until it
can't breathe anymore, which takes time.
I've been wrestling with this cat
for maybe ten, 15 minutes,
and I'm getting worn out at this point.
And, I was getting torn up pretty good.
Its front claws were still, like,
thrashing like crazy.
Even while this is happening, I am yelling
for help.
Help, somebody help!
(screaming)
I remember thinking, whenever I didn't
hear a response, that I was alone.
That was a sinking feeling.
But, it also was that spark that kind of
convinced me that I had to do more
drastic measures to get the cat off.
NARRATOR: On a desolate island just off
Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina,
surfer John Cheshire thinks he's been
attacked by a Portuguese Man O War.
He's in desperate need of medical help.
At that point, we've got to walk back
through the trail.
ANDREW: We helped him back across the
island slowly.
Like, I have to stop cause I'm,
like, getting ready to pass out.
And, I'm like, You've got to call 911.
And, they can't do that yet,
cause we're not at the phones. We're not
at the boat.
We had a little bit more to go and he
said, I'm not going to make it.
I feel like I'm going to die.
ANDREW: And, I just had to reassure him.
John, dude, you're my bro. You're not
going to die. You're going to be fine.
(grunts)
NARRATOR: Finally back to the boat,
Andrew immediately radios for help.
ANDREW: I said, "Coastguard, come in. I've
got a distressed passenger.
He got stung very bad by a jellyfish and
he was having trouble breathing."
I said, "His heart was racing and he felt
nauseous,
was in a lot of pain." We just needed,
and we just wanted to get him professional
medical care, not amateur pee care.
He starts hosing me down with fresh water.
(painfully screaming)
And, I remember that spiking the pain.
It felt like a constant burning sensation.
Like, just laying in hot coals.
DR YANAGIHARA: Unfortunately,
when you're stung, there is a fiery pain.
You would instantly think cold water.
Again, it's completely counterproductive
because these tiny undischarged
little stinging capsules, when fresh water
hits them, they discharge.
And, they're perfectly capable of firing
into the skin.
And so, fresh water is not helpful.
JOHN: It felt like my lungs were going to
collapse
and that I was going to go into
cardiac arrest.
So, John's life is clearly at risk.
The fact that he has respiratory
insufficiency, this off the scale pain.
He feels like he's having cardiac arrest.
These are all signs and symptoms of a
life-threatening sting.
This is not consistent with a Portuguese
Man O War sting.
This is starting to sound like a box
jellyfish sting.
NARRATOR: The box jellyfish, with over 51
species across the world.
Its venom is the deadliest in the
animal kingdom.
Each tentacle capable of reaching ten feet
long can contain millions
of stinging cells.
Unlike most jellyfish that drift with the
current,
these are able to use those tentacles to
move
through the water at up to four knots,
faster than a human diver.
Dr Yanagihara explains why the box is the
most advanced
and dangerous jellyfish in the ocean.
DR YANAGIHARA: Box jellyfish, they have
vision,
so each corner of the body has an eye
stalk,
and on each eye stalk are six eyes.
Two of which have a lens, such as our own,
and a retina, and capable of color vision.
They use their vision to hunt, and they
eat fish
and small deep sea copepods.
They come up to the surface.
We, as humans, go out into the midst of
that and we encounter a sting,
I think I put that on us, not on a
sinister box jellyfish.
(dramatic music)
I goosed it. Some of the bumps, you know,
he's getting hit in the back a little bit.
And, he yells.
JOHN: Hitting, and hitting, and hitting.
And, every time it hit, that pain just was
like another gut punch, another gut punch.
It was like, at that point, I'm going in
and out.
NARRATOR: Arriving at the dock, first
responders stabilize John.
- ANDREW: We had him docked.
- Alright, step up.
ANDREW: EMS, they're there. They arrive
quickly.
JOHN: The had a medical kit. They had a
razor blade.
They started scraping down, and that was
so painful.
Not the razor blade, just the touching of
it.
And, they started scraping me down.
But, the venom was in me.
And, they're just doing whatever they can
to try to help.
Using razor blades to try to
remove the pneumatosis,
that actually has been published by a
medical doctor as advice.
But, unfortunately, we find no evidence
that this is helpful in an actual model.
These tiny pneumatosis are microscopic.
You can't pluck them out with a razor
blade.
So, in fact, by rubbing the razor blade
over his skin,
all of these venom components are being
pressed into his blood stream.
It's increasing the venom load and making
things far worse.
ANDREW: Chesh just kind of lay there,
just have to receiving oxygen to help him
breathe.
DR YANAGIHARA: Oxygen is a move in the
right direction.
From the sounds of what he's describing,
he's starting to get pulmonary edema,
so his ability to absorb oxygen from air
is being dampened and decreased.
So, this is very helpful. With the
oxygen, we're starting to turn the corner.
JOHN: Andrew called my wife, explained to
her what was going on.
I'm sure she was very scared.
I was scared out of my mind.
NARRATOR: With John in agony, first
responders give him an opioid,
hoping to ease his paid.
They gave me a short, I believe of
Fentanyl.
The EMS guy goes, this will help you out.
He goes, this is going to cut the edge
off.
And, I thought to myself, It's going to
bring it down
and I'm going to be, like, hallelujah.
You know, pain free. It didn't do
anything.
That was when I came to the realization,
okay, I'm in some real trouble.
Unfortunately, these opioid class
compounds aren't going to help at all.
And, in fact, they could make matters
worse, again,
because it can reduce his respiratory
capacity.
The venom of the box jellyfish happens to
have pore-forming proteins.
And, these are tiny proteins that
self-assemble and form, like buckshot,
form holes in whatever cell they touch.
And so, these tiny pore-forming proteins,
basically,
attack and attack to red blood cells
forming little holes.
That causes a massive leak of potassium.
So, John is uniquely at risk at this
moment.
If enough potassium leaks out of enough
red blood cells, his heart will stop.
ANDREW: The stretcher comes out and
seeing your buddy
on a stretcher is kind of a
harrowing event.
You know, he laid there. He was still.
They loaded him up.
I looked at my buddies and we were like,
damn, that was heavy.
NARRATOR: Back in the foothills of Fort
Collins, Colorado,
Travis's best efforts to get the lion off
his arm are failing.
He is left with no choice.
So, realizing that nobody was coming
to help,
I had to do whatever I could to help my
chances for survival.
It was mostly, Aw, shucks. I wish it had
turned away.
I wish it would not do this. And so, I
decided to get myself,
like, leveraged away from the cat, but
then get my right foot onto
the cat's neck and try to suffocate
this cat.
(grunts)
DR ALLDREDGE: This lion was holding on,
not letting go.
And so, he finally went to the only option
he had left.
To step on his throat and suffocate it.
TRAVIS: And, finally, I was able to get a
foot onto its windpipe.
And then, I just leaned into the weight
with my wrist still locked into the cat's
mouth.
And, once that happened, the cat started
thrashing wildly.
It started just going nuts, biting extra
hard down on my wrist.
The whole time, its back legs were digging
into my thighs.
It was crazy. And, I look at its
eyes and I see
its eyes are getting bloodshot as I'm
suffocating it.
While this is happening, since my face has
been gashed through,
I see my blood falling onto the cat's fur.
And so, I just kept on leaning more body
weight into it.
And, finally, after what seemed like
forever, but was maybe a minute or two,
the cat just went limp and finally
released my wrist.
I sat there for maybe another 30 seconds
to a minute.
I felt extreme sadness that I had
to suffocate it.
And, I remember thinking how big
its paws were.
It looks like it's paws are too big for
its body.
Like, its proportions are just a little
weird.
And, I'm like oh, it's not a full-grown
mountain lion.
And then, I think, Where is mom?
NARRATOR: Killing the juvenile mountain
lion to save his own life,
Travis is now miles from help
and bleeding heavily.
Pretty immediately I know I got to get
the hell out of here.
I just feel like I committed the ultimate
offense when you're out in nature,
to get between a mother and her cub.
DR ALLDREDGE: If the mother comes onto
that situation,
it's hard to say what would happen.
Mountain lion attacks on humans are rare.
And, this situation is fairly unheard of.
So, there is a video that came out
where we see the runner,
and you see some kittens in the trail,
and then you see the mother mountain lion
come back out on the trail.
And, is doing a threatening behavior
trying to get the runner to back away.
RUNNER: No.
DR ALLDREDGE: Clearly, that is a
protective behavior.
She is trying to protect her kittens.
(rocks sliding, growling)
RUNNER: No.
DR ALLDREDGE: In this
situation Travis was in,
you could only assume that the mother
would try to defend her young.
And then, that would have
really gotten out of hand.
TRAVIS: As I'm getting
the hell out of there,
and as I'm running forward, I just see paw
prints. Everywhere.
And, I think, Oh no. I look up and I see
that there is all these rock outcroppings.
What seems like perfect mountain
lion habitat.
You know, you do a Google image search
of mountain lion,
and you see these mountain lions perched
on these rocks.
And, like, oh, those are the rocks.
DR ALLDREDGE: Lions like rocky
outcroppings where
they can survey the area, which
is convenient,
because then we're not going to
surprise them.
TRAVIS: I'm just running through, and as
I'm looking down,
I also see my face is just dripping blood
and I just am watching it just kind of
dot the trail.
I don't feel safe, and I'm just thinking
that I have this kind of stopwatch.
It's like ticking down before mom
shows up.
And, I have to get out of this situation
as soon as possible.
NARRATOR: Travis knows the best place
to find help is back on the main trail.
A wide open space heavily trafficked by
other runners and hikers.
I'm running super fast and I'm
getting winded, and I slip.
And, I realize I got to chill out, or else
I am going to break an ankle.
So, kind of, stay calm, don't trip, don't
slip.
I'm bleeding, but I don't know from where.
I was really worried about the mother
mountain lion showing up.
I'm just repeating the mantra, Stay calm.
Stay calm. Stay calm. And then, finally, I
see Towers.
And so, I start running down Towers and
about 2 miles down,
I see a runner coming up.
I realize at that moment that I'm just
totally bloodied up.
And so, I think to myself, Okay,
don't seem like a crazy bloody person
and don't freak this guy out. And so, I
just say.
TRAVIS: Hey. Hey, man. Do you have a cell
phone?
This guy looks up. He goes, No. And
then, I could see him do the double-take.
- What happened to you
- I got attacked by a mountain lion.
TRAVIS: And then, he's like, For real?
NARRATOR: Back in North Carolina, surfer
John Cheshire
arrives at New Hanover Regional Hospital
in debilitating pain.
Thinking he was stung by
a Portuguese Man O War.
I get to the emergency room.
I see my wife. She was crying.
Obviously, really worried about me.
At that point, I feel like my flesh is
ripping apart form the inside out,
and that it's just going to melt away.
An ER doctors comes in, says, What's
going on?
I said, Man, I got hit by a Portuguese Man
O War.
Worst pain of my entire life.
He sees the scarring.
The first thing he does, he goes, That's
not a Man O War.
That's a box jellyfish. And, I was like, A
box jellyfish?
You know, like, out of all the surfing
I've done throughout the years of my life,
and all the free diving, I'd see jellyfish
all the time. But, I've never seen a box.
He goes, That's the Atlantic box
jellyfish.
He goes, I don't know how they came up
here, but you got hit by one.
NARRATOR: But, if box jellyfish are so
rare in this area,
what could explain such an encounter?
Dr Yanagihara has a theory.
So, yes it was a perfect day
for surfing,
but part of what made it a perfect day
for surfing was the recent storm event.
Box jellyfish in this Cape Fear,
Wilmington, North Carolina area are,
in general, only found in these kind of
swamp areas,
where they feed in shallow, brackish
water.
And, that storm event, conceivably, could
have caused
this natural habitat to be washed out to
sea.
So, these box jellyfish in that locality
have been found before,
and observed before, most often associated
with a major storm event.
NARRATOR: Still in agonizing pain,
understanding why
the box jellyfish was there is the last
thing on John's mind.
People die from box jellyfishes.
I mean, it's the most venomous organism
in the world, and I got hit by one.
Unfortunately for John,
this venom doesn't just sit on the outside
of the skin.
It's actually going into the capillaries
and into the small veins.
So, it immediately gets pumped through
the body.
You know, so every time your heart beats,
you have circulating blood and venom.
That can kill you.
Yeah, I thought I was going to die.
I mean, I was scared out of my mind.
You know, this may be it. And so,
they took compressed heat,
like scalding hot heat pads, and that
helped.
So, the reason John is feeling relief
is because of the hot compress.
Interestingly, for as scary,
and potent, and remarkable
as these animals are, it's a marine
organism.
It's built to live within a very narrow
range of temperatures.
These proteins that cause the havoc, those
pore-forming proteins,
are irreversibly activated in a safe hot
bath.
And, when their venom is exposed to that
high degree of temperature,
115° Fahrenheit, game over.
The venom loses activity.
JOHN: And then, at that
point, it was more bearable.
But, the pain went
right back up.
And, he came back in, he
goes, How are you feeling?
I said, Look, man, whatever you've given
me helps momentarily,
but then it goes right back up to a ten.
It's like,
Is there anything else you can do? And,
he's like, Well, we've already given you
the legal amount of medication that
we can.
If we're going to give you any more meds
at this point,
in this time frame, you have to sign a
waiver
that says if you die, we're not liable.
And, I was absolutely willing to take
that risk.
NARRATOR: Fort Collins, Colorado. After a
violent mountain lion attack,
Travis Kauffman finds relief from a fellow
runner.
Let's go back to the parking lot, alright?
- TRAVIS: Alright, yeah.
- Let's go. I'll run with you. Let's go.
TRAVIS: And so, we start
running down this trail.
It's one of those elephant in the room
moments where somehow
we were avoiding talking about the
mountain lion at all.
We get to his car and I'm thinking, Okay,
I need to call Annie and let her know.
And so, I left a message, Hey, Annie.
I just want to let you know I'm okay.
But, when I was running today, I was
attacked by a mountain lion.
I'm on my way to Tudor Valley Hospital
right now to get checked out.
NARRATOR: Travis is driven to the hospital
and arrives within minutes.
TRAVIS: When we get to the hospital,
I go to the front desk.
What happened to you? I go, I was attacked
by a mountain lion.
And, the lady sitting at the front desk
- was like, Oh.
- You're serious.
Oh my gosh. And, I got taken back
immediately.
I got a claw mark right across the bridge
of my nose and down my cheek.
Even caught a claw a little bit in my
neck.
Had a big hole in my wrist from where one
of, like, the main canines was.
The back legs were digging into my thighs.
And, it was trying to climb up my body.
I was wheeled out into the main area,
and that's when I was able to see Annie
for the first time.
And, it meant so much just to let her know
that I was okay.
I mean, it meant everything.
NARRATOR: While Travis recovers, Colorado
Parks and Wildlife investigate the scene.
They track and discover two mountain lion
cubs,
siblings to the one that attacked Travis.
The mother was never found.
DR ALLDREDGE: A speculation about what
happened and why,
we don't have all the facts, and we never
will.
But, a lot of research that tells us
that it's typical for the mother to leave
the offspring for extended periods of
time.
She could have been killed by another
lion.
She could have been killed in the act of
trying to go out
and find prey for her offspring.
Travis was running down a trail in an open
space property like he likes to do,
and we had a young, inexperienced mountain
lion in the area, curious,
and was trying to learn how to hunt,
and saw something moving, and started
running towards it.
And, pounced on it and attacked.
You know, typical predator, prey
behaviors there.
If you see a lion, you want
to make yourself look big,
so you can put your hands out. You can
throw things at them.
But, don't bend down to pick stuff up
because then you look like prey.
You know, talk softly, but don't talk in
a high,
screechy voice because that sounds like
prey.
Groups are great. If you have kids and you
encounter a lion, pick them up.
NARRATOR: The juvenile siblings of the cat
that attacked
Travis were cared for in a rehab facility
and released back into the wild after six
months.
TRAVIS: Currently, Annie and I are
married.
My cat, Obie, is still my feline fight
trainer.
Having survived a mountain lion attack,
I just want people to be aware that
there are these wild animals live here,
and you're in their home, so be respectful
and maintain your distance, and leave them
alone, if you can.
NARRATOR: At a hospital in Wilmington,
North Carolina,
surfer John Cheshire's only possible
relief from a severe
box jellyfish sting is to take a high risk
dose of pain medication.
JOHN: You know, my wife, she was really
nervous about me
signing a waiver that says that
if I got additional medication, that I
could, in fact, die.
But, at that point in time, it's my body.
He brings out a waiver. I sign it.
He says, Alright. Comes back in and gives
me one more dose.
And, that's when I really felt, I was like
okay, I've got some pain relief, finally.
The next morning, I woke up.
My whole body had swollen up.
It was like a sack of water.
Like, you could touch the side of my body
and it would all jiggle.
It had scarred up and
scabbed, and it was bleeding.
The first time I saw Chesh after I saw him
getting taken away,
the first thing he did is flash me to show
me his battle wound.
It's pretty impressive.
He's scared for life, bro.
It hit me right in here.
Like a little V right here.
When I pulled it off, the tentacles
wrapped.
And, that's when you see the little A
frame right here.
NARRATOR: For John Cheshire, it was a case
of wrong place at the wrong time.
But, was the attack complete chance?
DR YANAGIHARA: Box jellyfish are strong
swimmers,
at least twice the swim speed of a diver.
They use their vision to hunt. They're
attracted to light.
So, it isn't out of the question that a
surfer going by
with a glistening surfboard,
the jellyfish could have swum towards him.
So, the simplest version of
what you should do if you're stung by a
jellyfish is two steps.
First, flood the sting site with vinegar
to inactive these little capsules.
It's a weak acid.
It actually lets the architecture be
changed so that they can no longer fire.
Second, apply heat or hot packs.
Optimally, immersing in water for 45
minutes, 42 to 45° Centigrade.
And, now your body can repair
itself and you can recover.
JOHN: Man, that box, it was just doing
its thing.
It happened to find me and I found it,
and I have got no animosity, no hate
towards him.
I wish it never happened.
Folks have wanted to say that jelly
numbers are increasing around the world.
I don't know that there is data to speak
to that.
But, certainly, humans are increasing
around the world.
And, our coastal populations are
increasing around the world.
So, more and more often,
such events could occur.
One I kind of healed up, I was back on the
island, for sure.
The water was still warm. Definitely had a
rash guard on.
We're surfers, you know. When the waves
are good, you've got to surf.
I've still got scarring. Three years
later.
It's an uncomfortable reminder that there
is things out there that can kill you,
that don't mean to. Just like that you
can go.
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