Seven months had passed and he was beginning to forget all about it, Gregory Ysais Jr. of Mission Viejo said Thursday.
"Then I find out the news this morning, and it all kind of came back," said the 36-year-old electronics technician.
The news was that Ysais was one of 19 people in the United States and Canada honored for their heroism by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. Each honoree will receive a medal and $2,500 in cash.
But what came back to Ysais was the memory of 5-year-old Laura Michele Small of El Toro in the jaws of a mountain lion at a southern Orange County wilderness park. The "really bloody" sight cost him sleep for a long time afterwards, he said Thursday.
The blond, blue-eyed youngster had been carried off by the cougar last March 23 at Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park near San Juan Capistrano. Ysais, drawn by the screams of the girl's mother, confronted the lion. By shouting and swinging at the cougar with a tree branch, Ysais forced the cat to drop the child and flee.