A 6-year-old New Jersey boy was attacked by a raccoon as he walked to school with his mother on Wednesday morning, authorities said.
The child and mother were trekking to 16th Avenue Elementary School in Elmwood Park at about 8:45 a.m. when the animal latched onto the child's back and began scratching and biting his face.
The boy's mother, Monali Gavali, described the horrifying enounter to NBC 4 New York outside Hackensack Medical Center, where her son was being treated Wednesday night.
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"Within a second, he screamed, 'Mommy,' then I turn around and saw that he was on the ground -- something was there, something was on his back," she said.
People living nearby heard the mother's screams and called 911.
"There's a woman screaming 'please call 911,'" one caller said in an emergency dispatch tape recorded by Broadcastify. "I think her child is being attacked by something.
Danny Walls, meanwhile, saw the attack unfold. He told NBC 4 New York he was getting ready for work when he heard the mayhem. He grabbed a painter's pole and rushed to help.
He tossed the animal to the ground and started beating it with the pole repeatedly until it died.
"I guess I broke his rib because he yelled and I continued to hit him 'til he let go," Walls said.
Wall's wife, Diana, saw the mauling and described the boy's injuries. He had deep cuts on his face, with the worst injuries under his right eye.
"He had rips on his face," Diana Walls said. "Not just cuts, rips."
Gavali said she didn't have the words to thank Walls.
"He saved my boy today," she said, still wearing the blood-stained coat from when she hugged her son Aryan after the attack. "He came like an angel."
Bergen County Animal Control took the raccoon's carcass for testing; results are expected by Friday.
Authorities said school officials in the town have been notified about the attack as many children walk to school.
According to the Humane Society, rabid animals can display a range of symptoms including foaming at the mouth, aggression and disoriented behavior. In raccoons, activity during the day can be an indicator of the deadly zoonotic virus as the species is typically nocturnal.