ELMWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A Bergen County boy is expected to be released from the hospital Thursday after being attacked by a raccoon as he walked to school.
Six-year-old Aryan Gavali’s face was swollen after surgery, leaving him with nine stitches after a raccoon attacked him and wouldn’t let go.
“I initially thought it’s a monkey, but later on I noticed it was something else,” his mother, Monali Gavali, said.
Police said the animal took a hold of Aryan just before 9 a.m. Wednesday as he and his mom were walking to school in Elmwood Park.
They said the raccoon crossed 16th Avenue and pounced on Aryan’s back, quickly heading right for the only place he had exposed skin.
“It’s cold outside and he was covered with a jacket,” his mother said. “Only his face was open.”
Danny Walls was sitting in his car and saw the struggle. He jumped out and grabbed a pole used for painting and began taking swings at the raccoon.
“The raccoon is clawing on the kid’s face, biting the kid’s face,” he said. “I killed the raccoon, the kid jumped up and was screaming, he was crying, there was blood all over the place.”
Gavali is grateful for Wall’s quick action, a move she said spared Aryan injuries that would he been far worse.
“I’m really, really thankful,” she said. “He came like an angel to help us.”
Wall said he hopes to reunite with Aryan once he’s home from the hospital.
The raccoon was taken to a lab to be tested for rabies. Results are due back on Friday.
Wildlife experts want everyone to be on the lookout for racoon rabies warning sings. Nocturnal animals should not be active in the daylight and people should beware if a raccoon is aggressive, disoriented and is foaming at the mouth.