by Barrett Seaman –
When he first saw the coyote run across the open field at Thornwood’s James Carroll Park, Arcangelo Liberatore didn’t think much of it, as coyotes have become common sights in Westchester. But then the off-duty Irvington police officer heard the screams as the animal attacked five-year-old Natalia King-Petrellese and her three-year-old brother. The children’s mother, Kasey, kicked the coyote in the head, causing it to stumble. But the animal spun back around and went after Natalia, biting her in the hand.
“I was very, very scared,” admits Liberatore as he charged the coyote, swept it off its feet and slammed it to the ground, pinning it there by the neck. He squeezed as hard as he could but found the animal was “pretty tough…I felt it was going to go soon.” That’s when a pair of Mt. Pleasant Police officer arrived and shot the coyote dead.
The incident took place on Sunday. Tuesday morning, officer Liberatore got a text from the father of the wounded girl saying that tests had come back positive for rabies. The treatment protocol for Rabies involves a series of painful shots, which doctors had already begun on the King-Petrellese family members as well as Liberatore, whose hand was bitten as he wrestled with the coyote.
“They stink,” said Liberatore of the shots, which he and the others will have to endure four times over a two-week period. “It’s a thick, viscous fluid,” he said. “You can feel it inside.”