Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rabid Coyote Attacks Girl Waiting for School Bus

When David Miller heard 9-year-old Ashton Crowe cry out for help, he didn't take time to find his shoes. The young man bolted out of his grandparents' house, down a gravel driveway, and kicked Ashton's attacker with his bare foot.

Although David, 16, could not tell exactly what kind of animal was biting Ashton about 6:30 a.m. Friday, he grabbed it by the neck, pinned it against the ground and told Ashton to run for safety. Ashton, who suffered leg wounds and severe damage to her toe from the coyote, sought shelter as David's grandfather, Howard Rochester, came down the driveway with a pistol.

"I was limping and running and went inside," recalled Ashton, who had been waiting for a school bus on Sutton Road, east of Pacolet.

Rochester fired a close-range shot into the coyote's stomach and it released itself from David's grasp, then charged Rochester and bit down on the barrel of Rochester's .22-caliber pistol. He fired and the animal jumped back and ran around a little more as Rochester fired until the trigger went "click."

The coyote then died in a nearby field, where it was taken away by Spartanburg County animal control agents, said Don Arnold, director of environmental enforcement.

Ashton said she originally thought it was a dog named Petey, but then the animal attacked and she screamed and kicked it a couple of times.

"(The coyote) got her toe really good," said Ashton's mother, Brandi Cantrell. "(Miller) took off and got it off her. I'm very thankful."

Rochester and David said they didn't feel like they had done anything heroic for their neighbor and friend Ashton, but Arnold said David's quick response saved Ashton from more severe injuries. She received treatment at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center and then stopped by her school to briefly participate in class activities for Valentine's Day.

Arnold said the male coyote weighed 27 pounds, although adult males usually weigh between 30 and 50 pounds. He said agents sent the coyote's head to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control for tests, which came back positive for rabies.

Ashton and David will require a series of five to seven vaccinations over a 21-day period, and Petey will be impounded for 10 days during her treatment. Ashton and David were set to begin the vaccination process Friday evening.