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Woman attacked by rabid coyote grateful for survival instinct

Woman attacked by rabid coyote grateful for survival instinct
Woman attacked by rabid coyote grateful for survival instinct
Posted at 3:46 AM, Aug 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-22 03:33:11-04

KINGSBURY, NY (WRGB/CNN) – A New York woman survived an attack by a rabid coyote that left her with deep injuries to her arms, legs, face and scalp.

Rita Sweenor was visiting a bike path Wednesday to take pictures of birds when she was attacked by a coyote.

"The minute he latched on to my leg, I knew. I just knew he was rabid,” Sweenor said.

The woman says she tried to call 911 but couldn’t hit send because of the coyote. Instead, she fought back, hitting the animal with her camera.

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

Sweenor finally managed to pin the coyote down and, several times, tried to throw it into the nearby water.

On her third attempt, Sweenor says she fell in the water also. She finally lost the creature when it climbed up onto the land.

Sweenor swam across, climbed up a hill and walked through a field to the closest home for help. As a nurse for 40 years, the woman says she knew she had to try and slow the blood loss, so she kept pressure on her injured arm.

"I don't actually really know how I survived. I came close to dying. I really did, but I have a beautiful family and husband and stuff. I've got to live,” Sweenor said.

Sweenor says she was anxious to get to the homeowners and tell them what had happened to her because she wanted police to close the path and protect others.

"I was just afraid he’d kill somebody. I knew there was a lot of people on that path. I was just afraid. I don't even know how I survived. I nearly died. He nearly killed me,” she said.

The woman is now recovering 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 said.

Authorities believe a coyote located by an officer Thursday, which tested positive for rabies, was the animal that attacked Sweenor.

Sweenor says she will now undergo a series of rabies vaccines.

Copyright 2017 WRGB via CNN. All rights reserved.