A 54-year-old woman is lucky to be alive after she was "violently" attacked by a bison on Wednesday in a South Dakota park — only to be saved because her pants came off amid the chaos.
The frightening incident unfolded in Custer State Park as the woman was riding as the passenger on a motorcycle, according to the Custer County Chronicle, whose post was shared by the Custer County Sheriff's Office on Facebook.
Eyewitnesses at the scene told the outlet that the Iowa woman got off the motorcycle along Iron Mountain Road around 6:40 p.m. and began to approach a buffalo calf when an adult bison came charging at her.
The bison's horns caught onto the woman's belt and jeans, allowing it to then swing "her around violently." Her pants came off, and she was knocked to the ground unconscious as the wild animal ran off with the rest of the large herd, according to the Custer County Chronicle.
The moment was captured in footage by witness Joanne Reed, who explained in an accompanying Facebook post that she had "never actually filmed a near-death experience, and this was easily going to happen to the woman."
"It was a tense moment," she continued in the post. "I just knew they weren’t respecting these massive beautiful creatures space."
After the woman was thrown to the ground, Reed's video shows a number of bystanders carefully rushing to her aid.
Custer County Sheriff's Office, Custer State Park rangers, Custer Ambulance and Black Hills Life Flight all responded to the scene before airlifting the woman to a nearby hospital, the Custer County Chronicle reported.
Despite being hospitalized, the local outlet provided an update on Thursday afternoon that confirmed the woman "somehow escaped serious injury in the incident."
The encounter came nearly a week after the Custer County Sheriff's Office warned people to avoid coming near bison and buffalo while in the state park.
"Well it’s that time of the year again," they wrote in a post. "We would like to remind everyone to not pet the fluffy cows – also known as Bison/Buffalo. We have had calls about the fluffy cows blocking the road occasionally – some people are also getting too close."
"Remember this is their park and we are the guests," the sheriff's office continued. "Please give them a break and keep your distance."
The most recent incident prompted Custer County Sheriff Marty Mechaley to, yet again, emphasize the dangers that come with approaching these wild animals.
"Visitors should stay in/on their vehicle and keep a safe distance from buffalo," Mechaley told the Custer County Chronicle.
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