NEW HAVEN CT - THE PIT BULL ATTACK ON A WOMAN ON ELLA GRASSO BLVD IS BEING COMPARED TO THE INFAMOUS 2009 CHIMPANZEE ATTACK: "SHE LOST HER EYES, A LEG, MAY LOSE HER ARM, PART OF HER FACE, EARS, WE COULD SEE THE BONES ON HER BODY, THEY WERE JUST EATING HER UP AND SHE MAY LOSE HER LIFE"
UPDATE: HARVARD EDUCATED YALE RESIDENCY IN PSYCHIATRY - DOCTOR HAMILTON HICKS
A 53-year-old woman has lost a leg and her eyes, and may still lose her life, in the wake of a pit-bull attack in Beaver Hills. Police have charged a 53-year-old Harvard-trained doctor who owns the dogs with illegally possessing crack at the time of the incident.
She has been undergoing a series of surgeries, including one Wednesday afternoon aimed at trying to save her arm, police said.
The attack occurred around 7:45 p.m. Monday. The doctor, who works in Yale’s psychology department, was driving with the woman, described as a friend, to his white Colonial four-bedroom single-family house on Ella Grasso Boulevard just north of Whalley Avenue. They had crack in the car, according to police.
He pulled into his driveway, up an incline from the street, opened a fence he keeps locked, and parked. As they went inside, they were greeted by the man’s TWO PIT BULLS, one large, one small.
The dogs leapt at the woman and started mauling her. Repeatedly. The man tried to beat them back; they attacked him too.
Neighbors heard what was going on and rushed to the scene.
Alder Brian Wingate, who lives across the street, was watering his grass at the time. Alerted to the commotion, he grabbed a broom, ran over. He saw kids throwing rocks climbing the fence to throw rocks at the dogs to try to get them to stop biting the woman. One kid hurled a garbage can over the fence.
“I’ve never seen nothing like this. I’ve only seen this in the movies. This was really, really horrific,” Wingate said later.
“It plays in my head. Her eyes. Her ankles. Her arms. Part of her face, her ears—I could see the bones on her body. It was unbelievable. Thank god for the kids that were yelling. We was looking for stuff to throw at the dogs. They were just continually eating her up.”
An ambulance crew showed up toward the end of the attack, and the homeowner opened the fence, at which point one of the dogs went inside, while the other was secured in the back yard.
"All the flesh was ripped away from her calf. The artery was just hanging there," another witness recalled, still shaken days later. "Half of her face was basically bitten off. She looked like she was dead. She had to lose two gallons of blood, easy. The front sidewalk in front of the house was covered with blood."
Both the man and his female friend were transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital. The woman “coded twice” en route.
Since then doctors have amputated her right leg, according to Assistant Police Chief Anthony Campbell.
“She lost both eyes. She has severe facial injuries. She’s in extremely critical condition,” Campbell said Wednesday afternoon. “She may lose an arm — she’s in surgery currently.” He said doctors reported that they won’t know if she’ll survive. Campbell said doctors described her injuries as worse than those suffered by the Stamford woman in the 2009 chimp attack.
The man was being treated for “numerous” non-life-threatening injuries. He was at home on Tuesday afternoon and unavailable to speak, according to another man who opened the door.
The man said he believed the woman was still alive; officials had no update available.
The dogs have been quarantined “secure” at the police department’s animal shelter on Fournier Street.
Meanwhile, police arrested the man with illegal drug possession after allegedly finding three bags of crack on him at the time of the attack. He allegedly told police he had been smoking crack Monday evening.
The man was recovering at home Tuesday when the fence door to the driveway was open. A different man who answered the front doors aid the 53-year-old man was home recovering from his injuries and was unavailable for comment. The man earned a psychology degree from harvard in 2001 and a medical degree from University Of Miami in 2014, according to the Yale School Of Medicine’s psychiatry department website. He bought the Grasso Boulevard house for $184,250 in 2015, according to city land records. His Facebook page was taken down after the attack.
The woman, who is a graduate of the old Richard C. Lee High School, posed with a pit bull in what was until recently her Facebook cover photo.
Meanwhile, city officials have reviewed the 911 calls after questions were raised about why the fire department wasn’t contacted to come to the scene.
City emergency management chief Rick Fontana said the dispatcher acted according to policy by contacting the ambulance company and the cops but not the fire department. That’s because the caller to 911 — who phoned twice — reported that a dog had bitten someone, but didn’t report how seriously.
In general, a routine dog bite is not considered a high-priority call requiring the fire department’s assistance, said Fontana, who reviewed recordings of the calls.
“If they said, ‘Listen, the person was bit on the face, the head, or the neck’” — as this woman was —“you’d get fire department. None of that information was relayed,” Fontana said.
Fire union President Frank Ricci disagreed. He said the dispatcher should have alerted the department: “I’ve been to numerous dog bite calls throughout my career. My take on it is if a citizen’s injuries require treatment, the fire department should be called. We provide the best possible service to the citizen.”
On Wednesday, Fontana said he and officials at the 911 call center have agreed to “escalate” the protocol” so that in the future dispatchers will call the fire department if an attack is in progress.
“We’ve learned. If this happens again tomorrow, we want to make sure we’re upping the response.”
Click below to hear Alder Wingate describe what he saw of the attack and how neighbors tried to help stop it.