A 59-pound cougar killed a Canadian mother who saw the cat maul her 6-year-old son and rushed to rescue him.

Cindy Parolin, 36, was killed Monday while horseback riding with three of her children in the wilderness near Princeton, a mining and ranching town 120 miles east of Vancouver.The cougar spooked Steven Parolin's horse and attacked the child when he fell off.

"My mom screamed," said David Parolin, 13. "Then she jumped off (her horse) and jumped on the cougar."

Parolin struck the cougar with a stick, drawing the attack on herself, while David and Melissa, 11, dragged the injured Steven to safety and sought help 11/2 miles away.

Jim Manion and other rescuers arrived at the remote bush trail an hour later to found the cougar standing over Parolin.

"She said, `I'm going to die,' and at that point Jim fired the gun to try and scare the cat because the cat was right there," said witness Bill Ayers.

The wounded animal was later tracked and shot by conservation officers.

Parolin was pronounced dead at the Princeton hospital where she worked as a crisis counselor.

Steven, who had up to 70 stitches in his head, was in stable condition at the hospital, according to his grandmother, Trudy Parolin.