OGDEN -- Cathy Hayes is still recovering from getting hit by a bison in Yellowstone National Park in July, but she's also recovering from getting hit by the national news media.
Neither has been as pleasant an encounter as she thought it would be.
The bison tossed her, banged up her leg and almost stomped her. The national media was less physical but equally overwhelming. She got free trips to New York and Los Angeles out of the deal, but nothing else. Her leg still hurts, she has to be back at work, and she's ready for the whole thing to be over.
Hayes, 49, of Farr West, was visiting Yellowstone Park in July with her family. On the evening of July 19 they were taking pictures of the sunset at Biscuit Basin when a bison wandered into her viewfinder.
As she recorded, the bison flipped its head and a stick on its head hit its back. Apparently thinking someone had thrown the stick, the bison first charged Hayes' brother-in-law Donald, then her.
Cathy Hayes kept the camera going. Donald fell and broke his shoulder. The bison shifted direction and chased her through some trees and smacked her left leg.
"I went up, end over end," she said in a July interview. She landed on her face, and "he was right over me. I could hear him snorting and snuffing."
The bison moved on. She and Donald found themselves smacked into the national spotlight.
Visitors to Yellowstone get hit by bison several times a year, but few get video of the critter coming at them. Utah TV stations called to air Cathy's stuff. On July 22 she flew to New York to be on CBS Early Morning. A couple weeks later she flew to Los Angeles to be on "Animal Planet," on a show called "I'm Alive."
Even while it was going on, it wasn't as great she thought it would be.
She flew first class, but her sore leg made travel painful. "CBS promised us they would help pay our medical bills and when we got here they gave us $400 to spend, which is about four dinners and three cab rides for four people. But they didn't pay us, and when we asked them they said 'Oh no, we didn't mean that, we meant someone would see your story and help you pay.'"
A spokeswoman for CBS "Early Morning" said Thursday that the show does not pay people for their stories. The network does provide transportation to New York, lodging and some spending money, she said, but nothing more.
The trip to Los Angeles was the same. Hayes said the Animal Planet show, "I'm Alive," looks for people who've had dangerous encounters "and when you tell the stories, they back light you and dramatize it, and then they do a followup."
But Animal Planet only gave her $500 plus the trip, "and they're trying to get some more home movies out of us and we're trying to get some more money out of them. I said, 'You want us to drive up there, you have to help with the gas.'"
The trip to Los Angeles did have one interesting side note. While there, tape on her leg caused an allergic reaction. The emergency room told her to consult an allergist when she got back to Ogden.
That allergist told her his father-in-law, who lives in Brazil, was in Yellowstone Park on July 19 and remembers throwing a stick at a bison in the same area that she was attacked.
Same stick on the same bison? Short of interviewing the bison, there is no way to be sure, "but it was an interesting circle of events," she said.
Meanwhile, her leg still hurts. She's back at work at Ben Lomond High School, where she is the yearbook adviser. Her students gave her a "Buffalo Crossing" sign.
And that's it. Her hopes to market the film haven't come true. "CBS, I know they made us a lot of promises, and as soon as you do your little thing, you're yesterday's news."
Still, she's not angry. She did get fully paid trips to Los Angeles and New York out of the deal. She got to be on the CBS Early Morning show, got mentioned in the New York Times and will be on Animal Planet again in January.
"So it was an interesting adventure, but I'm not sure I'd do it again."