Woman who was attacked by rabid coyote shares story of survival

SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y. – A New York woman who survived an attack by a rabid coyote is now sharing her story of survival.

Last week, Rita Sweenor was on a bike path to take pictures of birds when she was attacked by a coyote.

“Something grabbed my leg. I turned around and a coyote had my leg in his mouth. I was in shock,” she said. “The minute he latched on to my leg I knew, I just knew, he was rabid.”

Sweenor told WRGB that she tried to call 911, but she couldn’t successfully call because the coyote kept attacking her.

The woman said she fought back, hitting the animal with her camera.

She sad sh was able to pin the animal down and throw it into the nearby water several times.

“He just kept coming, he attacked me 10 or 15 times,” said Sweenor. “I just had to stand and fight. I had no choice, I just had to stand and fight.”

After throwing the coyote into the water the the third time, she said she fell in the water also.

“I walked across the feeder canal in all that muck and stuff. I had to swim part of it because it was really deep and stuff, and hoped he didn’t follow me. If he followed me I’d be dead, I was running out of steam,” she said.

After she made it out of the water, she walked to the closest home for help.

Sweenor, who was a nurse for 40 years, knew she had to try to slow the blood loss, so she kept pressure on her arm.

“I was just afraid. I don’t even know how I survived. I nearly died. He nearly killed me,” she said.

The woman continues to recover from several injuries to her arms, legs, face and scalp, many of which are deep.

She says she’s grateful her survival instincts kicked in.

“I didn’t know I had that strength, but I think adrenaline and stuff kicks in and you want to survive and you want to live,” Sweenor told WRGB.

A few days after the attack, officials located a coyote which tested positive for rabies.

Officials believe that is the same coyote that attacked Sweenor.

She now has to undergo a series of rabies vaccines.