Mountain lion attacks 3-year-old boy at Orange County park

(Orange County Fire Authority)

A 3-year-old boy was attacked by a mountain lion while hiking with his family at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Lake Forest Monday afternoon, authorities said. 

Emergency crews were called to the park at about 4:12 p.m. in the 26700 block of Portola Parkway.

The child, who was hiking with his parents and three siblings, suffered injuries to the neck as a result of the attack, according to the Orange County Fire Authority. The family was walking in the park with the 3-year-old in front of his father when the feline came out of nowhere from a nearby tree and grabbed the child by the neck.

The father, an experienced hiker who thought of the scenario several times, threw a backpack at the mountain lion. The big cat then dropped the child in lieu of the backpack and jumped up a tree, the Orange County Fire Authority said.

The child was rushed to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.

The park was evacuated as park officials monitored the mountain lion in the tree. California Fish and Game officials responded to the scene. At about 5:30 p.m., officials on scene confirmed the mountain lion had been killed.

Authorities confirmed the child was released from the hospital Monday night, after the attack that left the young victim mentally and physically traumatized. 

The park will remain closed until further notice, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito said. 

Officials provided an update Tuesday afternoon

Wildlife officials collected DNA evidence from the cougar and the young victim. DNA evidence from the mountain lion included saliva from the bite wounds and DNA from the mountain lion included human DNA underneath its claws and teeth. Officials also collected clothing samples and drove the evidence to Sacramento authorities overnight. 

During Tuesday's news conference, officials received a call from forensic scientists that confirmed that the mountain lion that was euthanized was the one involved in the attack. 

A 35-year-old cyclist, Mark Reynolds, was killed by a mountain lion in the park in 2004. He was fixing his bike when he was attacked by the puma, which then attacked two other people who found Reynolds' body. 

The investigation is ongoing.

FOX 11's Kelli Johnson and City News Service contributed to this report.