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Interview With Evan Bayh, Lindsey Graham; Interview With Anne Hjelle, James Poindexter

Aired May 17, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight. Exclusive. She cheated death by inches when a savage mountain lion attacked, tore off half her face and now in her first live television interview. Anne Hjelle takes us back to that terrifying day and tells a miraculous of faith and love, survival and recovery but first, United States forces find a possible nerve gas weapon in Iraq.

And the Iraqi governing council president assassinated. What's it all mean with germ warfare correspondent Judith Miller of the "New York Times," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Evan Bayh. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Before we get an update on the Sarin gas and the parent explanation of how that happened in Iraq today, let's first get to the stories appearing in "Newsweek" and the "New Yorker" and start with our senators. What do you make of this, Senator Graham, the possibility that the Geneva Accords were overlooked?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Some very serious allegations. The basic essence was that they --- some military lawyers may have been dealt out in terms of giving input that there was sort of an effort to camouflage a secret program that did not have to abide by the Geneva Convention. One thing quickly, the al Qaeda has never been -- I agree with the president. Al Qaeda should not be covered by the Geneva Convention in terms of their status because they're not legally entitled to it but they should be treated humanely. That's the president's policy. Whether or not that policy was deviated from, we'll find out.

KING: Senator Bayh, are you concerned about the memo from Secretary Powell against all of this? What do you make of it?

SENATOR EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: Well, Larry, like so much else in this unfolding story, we need to get to the bottom of it. That's why we'll have further hearings this week in the armed services committee and get these facts out. I think Lindsey is right, we need to differentiate uniform representatives of the military of nation states and detain terrorists or insurgents who are killing American military men and women and innocent civilians. It's important that we ensure that this kind of thing never happen again. At the same time, we need to be able to use some acceptable but aggressive techniques when we get some of these hardened terrorists and innocent lives may hang in the balance on our ability to get timely information.

KING: It's a puzzlement. Judith Miller, what's your update, what can you tell us about this Sarin gas story? First, what is sarin Gas?

JUDITH MILLER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Sarin is a nerve agent, Larry, that causes death by basically asphyxiating someone. You may recall in 1995, it is the agent that a group, Aum Shinrikyo, used in the subways of Tokyo that caused 12 deaths and made about 5,000 people sick. We still don't know for sure what was discovered in Iraq. However it does appear to be Sarin according to two tests that were done by the British and by the Americans in the field. That's according to sources I interviewed today.

KING: Now, does this say two things. One that there are weapons of mass destruction around somewhere, and two, are all the troops in danger?

MILLER: Well, what it does say is that it appears at this point that there was certainly some insurgent who found something that appears to have been a chemical artillery shell. At that point -- before 1990, Iraq made approximately 4,800 of these shells, and at the end of the U.N. inspection period, there was still about 40 tons of Sarin unaccounted for, but we still don't know whether or not this was one single shell that someone found in a dump someplace or whether or not it was part of a cache that the insurgents may have found from the unaccounted for material that Iraq really never fully explained the fate of.

KING: Senator Graham, member of the armed services committee, as is Senator Bayh, veteran of the Air Force. Senator Graham, what do you make of this? It gets puzzling every day, doesn't it?

GRAHAM: It does, but in terms of the prison abuse scandal, the rule of law is our guide. We're trying to show the world we're different. I don't want to compare our troops to the Saddam era because I think you've lost when you start doing that. I want to show the world that in a democracy, there's a better way and you got to not only talk about it, you got to demonstrate it. So the prison abuse scandal, holding people accountable is what we're trying to demonstrate to the world is the right way.

In terms of the nerve agents, we'll find out over time more about the Saddam era. It's a hard place to crack. People are afraid. Look what happened to somebody today who wanted to step up and have a new Iraq. There are a lot of people in Iraq today that are going to kill you if they can if your idea is to bring about a democratic transformation, because if a democracy is in place, they lose big time because people won't vote for their ideas. You got to stay the course and the paths will come out over time as we have trials and we learn more.

KING: Senator Bayh, do you sense the public turning against the war in Iraq?

BAYH: I think the public is concerned, Larry. I think the American people have more resiliency and staying power than they're given credit for. What they really want are two things. First they want a strategy with a plausible, successful outcome. Lay out the steps that we're going to pursue here to create a stable, more democratic Iraq and ultimately Iraqi defense forces and police forces that can secure their own society so that our troops can come home.

What's the strategy? How do we successfully resolve this and No. 2, candor, Larry. And I think that's where we may be getting into trouble. At the outset of this, there were some who said, look, this will be easy. We'll be greeted as liberating heroes. It won't cost us much money or too many lives. Some of the rest of us knew it was going to be more difficult than that. So I think to the extent you're seeing the public sour, it's because of the element of surprise. We need to be candid going forward. We can win this. It's vitally important we be successful but it's going to be a difficult undertaking.

KING: Judith and this for all of you. What do you make of the killing of the president of the Iraqi governing council today, the second member of the council killed?

MILLER: Exactly. I think it shows that the insurgents are targeting the Iraqis who would claim to be part of any kind of transition government, who are working with the Americans, the fact that the insurgents can kill the head of this council will certainly -- it's aimed at deterring other Iraqis from stepping forward to carry this burden. Ultimately, Larry, it's going to be up to the Iraqi people to decide whether or not they have the courage and persistence to fight to save their own country, and we don't yet how that struggle is going to come out.

KING: Senator Graham, what's your read?

GRAHAM: Well said. They have to want their freedom as much or more than we do. If you sign up to be a police chief, to be a city councilman, to be a governing council member the insurgents and al Qaeda want to kill you, because they don't want a democracy. If you're a coalition force member, they're going to come after you like they did in Spain. Their goal is to drive us out. That's what the beheading was about, and I think we have the resolve, as evidenced, to stay the course, because the only way we'll change this world is allow women to vote, women to participate in Middle East politics and a democratic Iraq is good not only for Iraq, but for the United States, and they're going to test us. Is our resolve to stay greater than their resolve to drive us out? We need to adjust. I believe we're going to stick to it and win if we have the resolve to do so.

KING: Senate Bayh, is the United States the changer of the world?

BAYH: We can't take on the task of changing the entire world but we can stand for our values which are democracy and freedom, and the right of every individual to try and choose their own elected leaders and benefit from the fruits of their own labors, worship God as they see fit, associate with those of their own choosing. If we stand for those principles, that will stand in stark contrast to the principles of those who beheaded Nicholas Berg, the principals of those who assassinated this leader today in Iraq, and in the long run, Larry, you know, we're not perfect. The prisoner scandal showed that.

But I think our ideals and values will be a better path for those in the Middle East than suicidal tear and the path that some others would have them travel down. That's our greatest hope in the long run, not imposing our values but exposing others to them. And in the long run if I put it in one sentence, it's not just the power of our arms but the power of our ideas that ultimately will secure our country.

KING: Thank you. Judith Miller, Senators Lindsey Graham and Evan Bayh. We'll be calling on you all again. We appreciate the time, and when we come back, we'll meet an extraordinary young lady, Anne Hjelle, this is her first live primetime interview. She was mauled by a mountain lion in January. Don't go away.


DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We have to be careful. We can't say something that's inaccurate. So what we have to then do is to try to track down and figure out how it might be there, what caused that to be there in this improvised explosive device and what might it mean in terms of the risks to our forces, the risks to other people, and any other implications that one might draw, and that's going to take some time.



KING: We now welcome Anne Hjelle to LARRY KING LIVE. Her name is spelled h-j-e-l-l-e, she's of Norwegian decent, and it's pronounced Hjelle.

On January 8, Anne and her friend Debi Nicholls went for a mountain bike ride in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in California. During the ride, Anne was savagely attacked by a mountain lion, the same mountain lion that had killed another biker several hours later. Anne escaped death, thanks in part to the courage and quick thinking of her riding partner and several other bikers, plus the skill of rescue workers and surgeons. Her face, of course, was badly torn up in the attack. She has undergone reconstructive surgery.

Anne, thank you very much for coming.

ANNE HJELLE, MAULED BY MOUNTAIN LION: Thank you for having me.

KING: We'll also be announcing a Web site later. We'll be meeting her husband later, and at that Web site you can help with donations and get more information on this near tragedy. What happened?

HJELLE: Well, Debi and I decided to go on a mountain bike ride, as we often would, and started down the trail, just a normal day out there. KING: Do you do this a lot?

HJELLE: Yeah, we do. Debi and I ride together, you know, two to three times a week, where we met each other a few years back, and we just -- our similar abilities and we just like going out.

KING: On mountain bikes. On special bikes, right?

HJELLE: Yeah, yeah, on the dirt. So we were probably half an hour into the ride, I would say, and we talked with one of our friends, Heather, at a certain point, for a few minutes. Debi and I went in one direction. Heather went another. We went down a trail called Cactus Hill. It's a fun downhill single track, very narrow, probably about 18 inches in most areas, and kind of like a roller coaster. It has some tight turns and it's a lot of fun.

But as we were heading down the trail, I noticed a man standing on the trail with a bike next to him, and he said, "I found this abandoned bike." Well, as I had come up to him, I had come around the blind corner and he kind of took me by surprise, and I had thought that perhaps he was there with someone else, and that he was jerking around. So I said to him, you're joking, right? And he said -- you know, he -- by the time I had said that, I was already passed him.

But we continued down the trail, and probably less than, I'd say maybe 10 seconds after we had seen him, I saw a flash of movement over my right shoulder. I noticed it was a reddish-brown color, and something knocked me off my bike.

KING: No noise before it?

HJELLE: No noise whatsoever.

KING: And the abandoned bike meant what to you? Is that where the other fellow was that was killed? It was his bike?

HJELLE: Yes, it did turn out to be Mark Reynolds' bike, we found out later. At the time, I really didn't think anything of it, but yeah.

KING: Were you knocked out?

HJELLE: No, not initially. The lion came out of the bushes...

KING: Did it growl when it hit you?

HJELLE: No, made no noise whatsoever. I just -- like I said, saw that flash of movement, and it took me totally by surprise. I didn't even really remember hitting the ground. I had come off of my bike and obviously hit the ground, but it just stunned me, and immediately I felt him -- his jaws on the back of my neck, and he had a very strong grip.

KING: What happened to Debi?

HJELLE: Well, Debi was coming right behind me down the trail at the time, and by the time she came up to me, she saw, I guess, my bike laying there. She saw me basically in the jaws of this lion and him attempting to drag me down the trail.

KING: Were you able to have a thought process during all of this, other than stark raving fear?

HJELLE: I was fearful. You know, initially, when the lion first came out of the bushes and I realized what it was, my first words were "Jesus, help me." I knew that I was in very serious trouble and that he could easily kill me.

KING: You probably were a second away from dying, right?

HJELLE: Well...

KING: Did he hit the artery, or...?

HJELLE: He actually clamped onto the back of my neck, as they would when they attack any type of prey in an effort to paralyze me. But as soon as he grabbed onto me and started dragging me down the hill, that was when Debi came up. She saw what was happening, and jumped off her bike. She threw her bike at the lion and grabbed a hold of my foot. Because she could see he was moving very quickly off the side of the trail.

It's very rugged terrain, heavy vegetation. The trail, it's called Cactus Hill because it's covered with cactus. So just the fact that she was able to hang on as he's dragging me down into that ravine was a great feat of strength. So.

KING: Well, so how did he let go? Why did he let go?

HJELLE: Well, she fought to hang on and she was screaming for help. The man who was next to the abandoned bike had called a couple of other guys down to that point in the trail, because he was concerned about that bike. So when they heard screaming, two of them rode down to where I was, and Debi was yelling for them to do something. And...

KING: And he's still dragging you?

HJELLE: He is still dragging me, very quickly.

KING: All of this is in matter of seconds, right?

HJELLE: Right. Right. And he would readjust his grip. He started at the back of my neck, he moved around to the front of my face, would drag me some more, re-adjust, drag me more down the trail.

So the two men ended up coming down, a third came down from a ridge, and they did end up throwing rocks at it. The first rock that hit him, he readjusted his grip and clamped down again, and I believe he was hit with three rocks, and the third one he did finally release. There was two other guys that were up on a ridgeline trying to call 911 at the time. So there was a number of people that did come to my rescue that day. KING: The lion ran away?

HJELLE: It did. We found out later it didn't go far, though. When the paramedics came much later, it was probably 30 feet away. He was kind of waiting.

KING: He was eventually killed, right?

HJELLE: He was, later that evening. Yeah.


HJELLE: By I believe the sheriff's department.

KING: How much pain were you in?

HJELLE: Well, the thing that I remember, you know, my strongest memory is just of the lion, his power. His strength was unreal. It's like nothing I've ever experienced before.

KING: I can imagine.

HJELLE: I remember when he clamped down on the side of my face and basically tore away my face, I remember the feeling of that, but not painful, just the strength of him.

What I do remember later, after he took off, and I did end up blacking out and coming to again, was the muscles in my neck were severely strained and damaged from the fangs.

KING: More in a minute with Anne Hjelle. Incredible story. Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got a lady that is attacked by a mountain lion in her face. Her face is almost gone. I need people out here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Winding Ranch, Cactus Ridge, Winding Ranch. She's in bad condition. I would get somebody here now.





DEBI NICHOLLS, FRIEND OF ANNE HJELLE: I was probably 20 feet behind Anne and this mountain lion jumped on her back. Started dragging her so I grabbed her leg. And he drug us down I don't know, probably, maybe 100 yards into the brush and I just kept screaming. I was just holding onto her the whole time. This guy would not let go and had a hold of her face. So, these guys started throwing rocks, hit him on the head and he took off. I got to get out of here.


KING: We're talking with Anne Hjelle, who is a personal trainer and former Marine.


KING: Do you think being in shape helped you?

HJELLE: I think in some degree. Not in terms of being able to fight off the lion. I was no match for it. Ten guys wouldn't be any match for it. I mean strength was unbelievable. But probably, as far as recovery, I think that helped.

KING: You were unconscious how long, do you know?

Anybody tell you?

HJELLE: Maybe 30 seconds. Debi and I, in fact, went over that today, because obviously I don't remember that portion of it, but trying to determine how long. It was a short time. When he finally clamped down on my neck and basically squeezed, you know, like a vise and cut off my air supply, I blacked out and that is when it did finally get hit with that last rock and it released and I came to shortly after.

KING: Did you think you were going to die?

HJELLE: Yes, yes.

KING: When you woke up, did they -- did they have to air lift -- how did you get out thereof?

Was your face hanging off?

HJELLE: Yes. I could feel...

KING: You could feel your skin?

HJELLE: Yes, I could. And Obviously out in the dirt and the brush I was concerned about trying to deep as clean as possible even though it was probably too late. One of the men who was there gave me the shirt off his back, a tee shirt to hold up to my face because it literally was like a flap hanging down and a lot of blood.

KING: From the top of the cheek, from where to where?

HJELLE: Basically from the end of my eyebrow came like this, and it was basically attached at my nose here, and everything around the eye was torn away. There's a little tiny sliver of the lower eyelid that was still attached, but everything else was part of that flap.

KING: They did nice job.

HJELLE: They did, especially considering this is the only surgery. I've had one surgery.

KING: That's all?

HJELLE: That night and I had a lot of swelling. So they did -- the surgeons did an amazing job with it.

KING: Almost took your eye out.

HJELLE: Yes, actually, one of the cuts came through the eyelid there, and like I said, all the muscles were torn away. The fact that my vision was 20/20 something like that is incredible.

KING: Do you have trouble closing the left eye a little?

HJELLE: I do. Yes, there's nerve damage.

KING: I notice your right eye blinks and your left eye doesn't.

HJELLE: It has improved. The upper lid is kind moving a little bit more with the other side. But I do have nerve damage that affects the lower eyelid.

KING: How much pain?

HJELLE: Well, the most pain was associated with the injuries to my neck.

KING: I don't see any scars on the neck?

HJELLE: Well, they've healed up nicely.

KING: Nicely?

HJELLE: It's incredible. I mean, -- and in fact, my husband and I really didn't have a full understanding as to the extent of the injuries until later, when we went to see the trauma surgeon and he kind of told us, you know, about the depth of some of those teeth marks. It's just unbelievable that I didn't have...

KING: There was no surgery on the neck?

HJELLE: Well, they did stitch up the fang marks. They were a significant...

KING: No scars.

HJELLE: They're there. They're a little discolored. I think it's a little covered up right now, but yes.

KING: They had to airlift you to a hospital?


KING: Trauma center.


KING: Were you aware of the whole flight and everything?

HJELLE: Yes, after I came to.

KING: They're holding your face back on. Are you holding it or were they holding it?

HJELLE: I held it until they got there and then they bandaged it up. And Debi and two of the men helped to carry me back up to the trail and I sat there for a minute. Initially, I thought we need to walk out of here. There is know way they're going to get to us. I said "I need to stand up." They're telling me no, no, no. And I sit up and then I realized I shouldn't be standing because I'm not feeling too great. But the paramedics, believe it took them 16 minutes from the 911 call to when they actually arrived where we were because that's an incredibly being that it's a remote rescue. It was 40 minutes to 911 call to landing at the hospital. I think that's incredible, too.

KING: Were you in pain through that whole flight?

HJELLE: You know, the only thing that bothered me was really my neck. They put a brace on me. They were concerned about further injury.

KING: How about in shock?

HJELLE: You know, I felt...

KING: Were you in shock?

HJELLE: Based on how they rate, I don't know what it's called exactly but it's a scale of 1 to 15, I believe, and they rated me as basically fully alert. And I did feel fine. I talked with Debi. I said, "call my husband, here's his number." I was telling the paramedics about a blood clotting disorder that I have. They were concerned about my blood pressure. I said it's normally in the low. I felt very alert. You know, at the point where I came to and was able to catch my breath, I really did think I'm out of the weeds. I thought I was going to make it. I didn't really worry for my life at that point.

KING: How close did they tell you later it had come to hitting a key artery?

HJELLE: It was interesting. We asked the surgeon, are you talking millimeters, centimeters, inches? They said millimeters. There is so much here that could have...

KING: That would have killed you?

HJELLE: Oh yes. Jugular vein, cardiac artery, esophagus, trachea, voice box, basicly none of that was damaged. We had muscle damage but considering the depth of some of the fang marks, I think that that's amazing.

KING: We'll be telling you, there's an Anne Hjelle Web site, where can you get more information on this and help you out.

You're going need more surgery, we understand?

HJELLE: Yes, they've said three to five surgeries over the next five years.

KING: If you'd like to help Anne Hjelle you can. The way to plug in is to Anne Hjelle, and it's spelled H-J-E-L-L-E. H-J-E-L-L-E. And it's We'll be repeating that. We'll come back with Anne and later we'll meet her husband. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hunt was on it find the killer cat before he struck again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Using a flashlight, they saw eyes in the brush and with that, they shot the shotgun at a, rifle, Orange County deputy shot a rifle and shotgun and did kill the mountain lion right there by the attack site.


KING: We're back with Anne Hjelle. Your website is tied in with the death of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

HJELLE: Right. With Mark Reynolds' website. He has a fund. His family has set up a fund to give bikes to needy children, First Bikes. It was something that Mark had done before kind of informally, and they've tried to continue that.

KING: And you need money for?

HJELLE: Well, I do have surgeries coming up. We have no idea as to the cost, but probably three to five surgeries over the next five years.

KING: You're not insured?

HJELLE: We are right now. It's linked with where I was working so it depends on whether I go back to that.

KING: You're not working now?

HJELLE: No, I'm not.

KING: You were a martial arts instructor?

HJELLE: My husband was. I was a personal trainer, though.

KING: That's right. You told me during the break, and we'll take some calls. You like mountain lions.

HJELLE: I hold nothing against them. I think they're incredible animals. You know, I don't hold any grudges.

KING: You went to the zoo and saw one?

HJELLE: We did. It's interesting. I feel that it's all part of the healing process to be able to go and see them and watch how they act and everything. So I do think they're incredible.

KING: Tell us how fast they run?

HJELLE: Well, I have read from a crouch in one leap, they can leap horizontally 40 to 45 feet, and vertically 15 feet, and some investigators from the Department of Fish and Game told us that they're able to jump with a full-sized sheep or goat in its mouth over a six to eight foot wall and they also told me that the size of the one that attacked me and attacked Mark Reynolds as well is able to take down an 800-pound animal.

KING: How much do they weigh?

HJELLE: Well, this one weighed 122 pounds and was about a four- year-old male probably.

KING: So you were about the same weight?

HJELLE: Yes, we were, but the difference in strength was, you can't even measure it. It was really unreal. I have taken class for my husband in martial arts class where I ground fight against other people in the class. There's a guy there who weighs about 270. I mean this lion was so much stronger.

KING: And it made no sound ever.

HJELLE: No sound, not at all through the whole attack. He was like Debi has said, very, very focused.

KING: How long was the attack, beginning to end?

HJELLE: We have tried to guess, maybe two minutes, a minute and a half, two minutes.

KING: Were you screaming?

HJELLE: In the beginning, I was -- what they heard up the trail was kind of like a moaning, you know, they said it wasn't like anything they've heard before. So I was in agony.

KING: Let's take a call for Anne Hjelle. San Diego, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Hello to you, Larry as well. You are truly amazing. And I just want to let you know that you're a true inspiration to millions of people across this country. I, myself, I'm into the nature and outdoors. Your story really hits close to home.

KING: What's your question?

CALLER: So my question is how was your life changed? CALLER: This is Tampa, Florida calling.

KING: We've got two calls coming in at one. How has your life changed?

HJELLE: It's changed dramatically. I had a regular work schedule. Now everything is upside down. We're trying to figure out what the future holds from here. It has changed. My husband was modified his work schedule, but we feel like there's something more that can come out of this. We want something good to come out of it, so we're trying to figure out what to do in the future to do with it, to get some kind of a message out.

KING: Do you have children?

HJELLE: We don't right now.

KING: Do you want children?

HJELLE: Yes, we do.

KING: The message is what, don't go mountain bike riding?

HJELLE: Not at all. In fact, I've been out...

KING: That's a good message for me. Convince me. I ain't going.

HJELLE: I love it. It's a great sport. I've met some incredible people through it.

KING: Met some weird people, too, not people.

HJELLE: Well, I don't know. But I would never not go back to that sport. I think it's great, and I love the outdoors especially living in a very fast-paced area to be able to get out, you know, a couple miles out onto a trail and you're out in the middle of nowhere. That's a great feeling. I love it, but...

KING: Had you seen animals before in your travels?

HJELLE: You know, I have. I've seen bobcat, coyote, many, many rattlesnakes but I myself have never seen a mountain lion. Most of the people I ride with have at some point. But they're extremely elusive animals. It's very unusual.

KING: Do they attack at will? Is that their history? I mean, they will attack -- ten years ago, they attacked a girl here, right?

HJELLE: Well, they attacked a girl, her name was Laura Small (ph). I think she was 5 years old at the time. I'm not sure how long ago it was. But, you know, it's not normal...

KING: Do they attack only when hungry?

HJELLE: It's not normal behavior. One thing they did say is that they didn't find any evidence of deer tissue in the lion's stomach that would show, because they would kill a deer every 4 to 14 days or once a week basically. So that was unusual. So we're not quite sure why this one chose to attack people. It's a mystery.

KING: Deer is what they mostly attack, feed on deer?

HJELLE: Yes, I believe so.

KING: Winona, Missouri, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry, Hi, Anne. What I'm wondering is, after this, what you feel about the mountain lion being a protected species.

HJELLE: You know, that's a tough question. And I am not any expert in mountain lion behavior, but you know, I think that it's tough, too, because we don't know the reasons that it attacked in the first place.

KING: They are a protected species?

HJELLE: They are in the state of California. That's a tough question and not something that I could answer.

KING: The amount of time they got to you, how did they get to you in 16 minutes, where you were?

HJELLE: Well, the fire station is nearby. The firemen made a choice when they received the call. Normally they would switch over the equipment to a smaller truck with a remote rescue because the big fire trucks, obviously, they're not driving on a dirt road. They made a choice to not do that and to take the big fire engine which shaved off a lot of time and it was a good call because they were able to get to me that much sooner.

KING: Were you scared during the flight, during the trip, in the hospital, that you were going to die?

HJELLE: Not at all, not at all. I was scared when the lion had a hold of me and like I said, once I came to, I never for a second thought that I wasn't going to make it. I was surprised later to hear someone say, oh, we found out she's going to live. I thought, what are they talking about? I never thought that I wasn't.

KING: Albany, Florida, hello. Hello? Are you there? Sorry. Tried. Now you mentioned faith.

HJELLE: Right.

KING: You are a believing Christian?


KING: So you believe what, that Christ was there for you, that he answered your prayers, what?

HJELLE: Well, one thing that I do believe is that whatever the reason it is that this occurred that he can take something that happens like this and bring good out of it, to have a purpose that something good will come out of it, and that is what we've seen. You know, we find that a lot of people have been inspired by this story, and I didn't obviously choose for this to happen. It's something that just happened to me, but it is a choice how I choose to deal with it, and I feel like there's a lot of opportunity here to -- one of the things that I feel strongly, the desire to speak to teenage girls, preteen girls that struggle with self-image problems. This is something that, to deal with these facial scars is something new to me and it's a learning process, but really, it's taught me that beauty comes from within. You know, it's something that they always say but for me to live it now...

KING: You don't blame God for letting it happen.

HJELLE: No, not at all.

KING: Birmingham, Alabama, hello. Either I'm having an ear problem or we're having a phone problem. Are you there, Birmingham? I'm going to take a break and come back and we'll meet James Poindexter, Anne's husband and hopefully more calls. Don't go away.


NICHOLLS: As I came around the corner, there was a mountain lion on her back, and he -- he had his arms around her neck and so when I got off my bike, I threw it at him, hoping that that would alarm him in some way. But he continued to start to drag her off of the trail.


KING: We're back with Anne Hjelle, the victim of a savage mauling by a mountain lion. Joining us now is her husband, James Poindexter, he is a martial arts instructor.

I understand you have your own place?

JAMES POINDEXTER, HUSBAND OF ANNE HJELLE: Yes, I do. In Costa Mesa, Orange County.

KING: What's it called?

POINDEXTER: Chinese Fighting Arts.

KING: That's the name of it, Chinese Fighting Arts.


KING: How did you two meet?

POINDEXTER: At a mountain biking event, Julian, California.

KING: You, too, with the mountain bikes?

POINDEXTER: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

KING: Where were you when this happened?

POINDEXTER: I was teaching class that day a Thursday evening, and just started a class.

KING: Did you know she was out mountain biking?


HJELLE: You can tell.

KING: You didn't know?

POINDEXTER: No. I didn't. We usually have a thing to tell each other that we're going to go out and which trail we're going to be riding on just for -- you know.

KING: You didn't tell him?

HJELLE: It was an important time to tell him too, but I neglected to.

KING: So, you didn't know where she was.

POINDEXTER: Well, I didn't know, but I figured she's not at home, she's out on her bike.

KING: Who called you?

POINDEXTER: Debi Nicholls, a friend of ours. And she...

KING: Said what?

POINDEXTER: Very distraught. Very upset. You can hear it in her voice. She said Anne had just been attacked by a mountain lion. She's being airlifted to Mission Hospital. You need to get to the hospital, and it was a little -- just unreal. I've seen many mountain lions out on the trail. So, I know it could happen. Just for it to happen to somebody you know or somebody you love is a different...

KING: How far was the hospital from where you were?

POINDEXTER: About a 45-minute drive.

KING: You drove by yourself?

POINDEXTER: Yes, I did. I left immediately. I was very upset. I didn't know if she was going to be alive or dead, so...

KING: Did you talk to anyone during the drive?

POINDEXTER: I did. I talked to my grandmother and I talked to Anne's parent's answering machine.

KING: Did they get to the hospital, too, your parents?

HJELLE: They live in Minneapolis. KING: They flew out after.

HJELLE: They came the next day.

KING: What happened at the hospital when you got there?

POINDEXTER: I came in, and I didn't see anybody there, like Debi or any of the other bikers, and they said I couldn't see her. She was in tests, so our church actually sits right below the hospital. I ran down to the church, because I didn't know where else to go. I was still did not know that she was all right or not. and I had a pastor that I met there at the front and he actually prayed for her, and I got a really good feeling, you know, the holy spirit came upon me and said basically, gave me a peace of not to worry. She's all right. He said that she has angels looking over her, and she'll be fine. And so my worry kind of melted away right there in that moment, and...

KING: What did you think when you saw her?

POINDEXTER: Well, when I walked in, they said that I could go in and see her. She was laying on a gurney, of course, in the pre-op room. I walked up and, you know, to see what that lion had done. It was very shocking.

KING: I'll bet.

POINDEXTER: What I saw mostly was the neck wounds. They were bubbling. Most of the wounds in her neck actually went all the way back to the cerebral column, so they were very deep, to say the least. And knowing that this is such a vital area on people's bodies from doing martial arts I literally started to pass out.

KING: You fainted?

HJELLE: Yes, twice, and then they finally rolled up a gurney next to me and he laid down.

POINDEXTER: Put me on the gurney.

HJELLE: And we held hands laying side by side.

KING: Call the hospital, he's in serious condition.

POINDEXTER: I was white.

HJELLE: Gave us a good laugh.

KING: What's it going to be like when she has a baby.

HJELLE: That's a good point, I don't know.

POINDEXTER: That might be scary.

KING: Was that scary to look at?

POINDEXTER: It was very... HJELLE: It was bad.

POINDEXTER: It was unreal.

KING: Did you say anything to him?

HJELLE: I was just thrilled to see him. I was so glad. And I saw when he came to my bedside that he started to cry, and I was saying don't cry. I was so happy to see him, that I didn't want to start crying.

KING: Did you watch him keel over?

HJELLE: I couldn't turn my head. They bandaged the whole side of my face. I thought where did he go? Than he stood up and he was gone away. So, that was funny.

KING: See if this phone is working now.

Ottawa, are you there?

CALLER: Yes, I'm here.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Just based on the whole tragic scenario with the one man losing his life and the attack on you, do you feel that it's -- I don't know if you had an opportunity to speak to any mountain lion specialists, but do you think it's more of territorial thing?

Because, obviously maybe it wasn't looking for food. And on top of that, I'm an avid mountain biker, too. I think slowly by surely, maybe not so much here up in Canada but slowly but surely we're infringing on the big cat's territory, and I think it's a way of saying get out of my space.

I just want to know if you have any comments on that?

HJELLE: Well, I think that the area that I was biking in that day is surrounded by homes that have been there for quite awhile. It's not recent, you know area that they have moved into with the housing. So it's a tough question to answer.

KING: You think it's their territory and you're there?

HJELLE: I don't really believe that. I think -- you know, one of the things is this area is right next door, really across the street from Saddleback Mountain area which is a huge national forest area. It's easy for them. They cross one little street and they're in that small park. One thing, you know, as far as, I don't really want to get into theories but one belief some have is that I was attacked because it had already attacked Mark, and it was kind of protecting that area because Mark had been killed already. I don't know if that's true.

KING: Are you mad at mountain lions? POINDEXTER: Not at all. I think mountain lions are an awesome, incredible animal. I have they have their right to be in this world. And I just don't want to -- I mean I don't want to like be speaking against mountain lions or anything.

KING: It would be a little understandable.


HJELLE: One thing that we are well aware of the risks associated with biking in these areas.

KING: You take the risk.

HJELLE: There's signs posted. You know, I don't, like I said, want to get into what should be done about it. I would hope that it wouldn't happen to anyone else, but I'm not sure how to go about were preventing that.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments. We're also going to repeat the Web site as well. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two girls down in the bushes. One was yelling, "mountain lion! Mountain lion! Come on, help me, grab her legs."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took three rocks the size of almost soccer balls to get this thing to move, and we hit it square with those rocks.



KING: If you'd like to help, and more information, the Web site is And the Hjelle is spelled h-j-e-l-l-e. That's www.annehjelle -- h-j-e-l-l-e -- .com.

We're with Anne and her husband, James Poindexter. What saved your life?

HJELLE: Well, I feel like crying out to God was a smart move on my part. Debi, without her, I would be dead without a doubt. Even with the other five bikers there, had she not held on to my leg and prevented him from getting into the ravine with me, I would be dead, without a doubt.

The other men who showed up to throw rocks, had they not done what they did, I would have been dead. So I think, you know, everything worked together for me to still be here. A lot of things came together. But I really do owe my life to those people that helped me.

KING: Your faith get diminished by this, increased, what?

POINDEXTER: Definitely it's built our faith in God a lot more. We've seen so many miracles that just some of the injuries in themselves were miracles. The people that were there, people that have been praying, the healing process.

HJELLE: Even my surgeons, who worked on me, I mean, just incredible surgeons that were on call, and I mean, I couldn't have planned to have better surgeons there. Our insurance -- at first we really had almost nothing, and it got switched over and made retroactive. I mean, just too many things to count.

KING: What kind of more surgeries do you need?

HJELLE: Well, they'll do reconstructive surgery, scar revision. They do need to wait to see as far as the nerve damage what kind of movement comes back in that area. They may have to do something that would lift this side if I don't get that movement back. So it's just basically a waiting game at this point.

KING: Your neck OK?

HJELLE: Yeah. I do have, you know, some of the muscles are still stain strained, but it's minor compared to what it could have been.

KING: Do you dream about it?

HJELLE: No, I had surgery. I came out of surgery, I think maybe 2:30 in the morning Friday morning.


HJELLE: I replayed it over and over and over, until I got up Friday morning. One of the first set of visitors that we had were our pastors. That was one of the first things they prayed for, was emotional healing. I have not had one nightmare, which I've talked to other people that have been attacked by mountain lions, I mean, same situation, that had been plagued by that for years. And I'm just so blessed that I've been -- I mean, even in the hospital, sleeping through the night. I think that's a major thing.

KING: Did you have any emotional difficulty with the change of her looks?

POINDEXTER: No. Actually, I don't see the scars. I see my beautiful wife. Somebody's asked me that already. And I just -- I thought I loved my wife before; I actually love her more now.

KING: Did you fear any loss on his part because of the damage that had happened to you?

HJELLE: I never questioned whether he would stick by me. He's a very committed person. I did -- that is the only time that I have cried since this happened was in the hospital, maybe two minutes, I cried for his sake, because of the stress on him, that I knew it would be tough.

KING: You're an amazing pair. Anne, thank you.

HJELLE: Good to see you.

KING: Thank you.

POINDEXTER: Thank you.

KING: Anne Hjelle and James Poindexter. They're Mr. and Mrs. Poindexter. And Hjelle, she keeps her name. And the Web site is

And I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow night, Bill Maher makes one of his regular visits to LARRY KING LIVE. That is never dull. Bill Maher tomorrow night.

Speaking of never dull, Aaron Brown is on the road tonight. He's in Topeka, Kansas, where he's going to host "NEWSNIGHT" and the history-making aspect of this, to not be looked any other way, 50 years ago Brown versus Board of Education. Aaron Brown, this should be an incredible hour. We're looking forward to it.


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