Jan. 28, 2007 — -- For one husband and wife, a hike-turned-emergency ended up as an incredible story of survival.
When a mountain lion attacked 70-year-old Jim Hamm, his wife, 65-year-old Nell Hamm, came to his rescue. With a log and a ball-point pen, she warded off the lion and saved her husband's life.
The mountain lion pounced on Hamm during a hike in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in northern California. With Jim's head literally inside the lion's mouth, Nell began to beat the animal with a log.
"She was beating him the whole time, Jim Hamm told local television station KIEM. "She was worn out from beating him. … Several minutes of real intensity."
All the while, Jim managed to talk to Nell. He instructed her to get a ball-point pen out of his pocket and try to poke the lion in the eye. The pen bent and broke, so Nell went back to using the log.
Eventually, the lion let go, turned to look at her, and walked away. Game wardens have tracked, shot and killed the suspected lion in the attack.
Steve Martarano of the California Department of Fish and Game said that were it not for Nell's fight, the lion would have likely overtaken her husband.
"There's probably no doubt he would have been killed," Martarano said. "If wasn't for her efforts … he just wouldn't have survived."
Laid up in a hospital bed with deep cuts and bite marks, Jim also credited Nell for saving his life.
"She stood in there the whole time," he said. "If she hadn't, I would be gone. … No doubt about it … I'd be gone."
Nell said she didn't have to think twice about fighting for her husband. The couple will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in two weeks.
"You hear remarks of hero," she said. "It wasn't that. We love each other very much … and we just fought together like we do everything."