A 15-year-old young man saved his 10 year-old brother from a potentially fatal dog attack during a family outing recently.
Chris and Maude Maxwell, from Opotiki, New Zealand, had taken their three sons, Karaitiana, Leeroy and Jose, on an outing to dive for paua, kina and crayfish at a coastal spot about 60 kilometres east of their small hometown.
Access to the beach was through private land on which their relatives, who were not at home this day, live.
They parked their vehicle by the house which was sited at the top of a bluff about 15 metres high, and made the descent to the beach along steep tracks by using a rope at one point. The beach was not sandy but was covered in uneven rocks of varying size. It was about 120 metres to the edge of the ocean.
Two dogs, which were loose around the house, were unable to get down to the beach.
The two older boys were enjoying being in the water with their father catching shellfish. Karaitiana, who is usually one to stay in the water for a long time, was feeling cold and got out of the water earlier than he normally would have.
He was sitting on the rocks watching his father and brother coming in from the water with their catch when he heard the sound of his brother screaming and dogs barking.
Jose had gone up the bluff to the vehicle and it was then that the attack by the loose pit bull terrier took place.
His mother also heard the sound but his father and other brother, who were still in the water, were oblivious to the sound. However they saw Karaitiana “spring up off the rocks and go full bolt up the bluff.”
His mother sped as fast as she could but Karaitiana covered the distance across the rocks and up the bluff in a matter of seconds. As he raced towards his brother he didn’t even notice he was barefoot.
His father and Leeroy quickly got out of the water and headed up the bluff being comforted as they went that they could hear Jose screaming out. “That is how we knew he was still alive,” his father said.
As Karaitiana approached him he had a moment of fear that the dog would attack him too. Jose was trying to fight the dog off and Karaitiana yelled at him to get up on the truck but Jose could not get away from the dog.
Karaitiana saw his brother bleeding and saw the dog jump into the air ready to come down on him and he said his mind went blank and he flew at the animal. He kicked and fought off the dog with a pole that was on the ground, until the dog left them.
The rest of the family arrived at the top to find Karaitiana stopping the blood-flow from Jose’s wounds with towels he had found.
The nearest hospital was at Whakatane —a long drive away of about 90 minutes. They called the police on the way, when they were in a cell-phone signal area, who met them east of Ohope.
Jose was transferred to the police vehicle and with sirens on the traffic parted and they arrived quickly at the emergency department where staff were waiting for him.
His surgery was over three hours long, cleaning several puncture wounds in his arms and hands and having 15 stitches applied to a wound on his temple. He is now at home, recovering well.
Looking back on the incident, Karaitiana says he feels that God helped him rescue his youngest brother.
“I normally stay in the water but I believe God knew I should get out,” he said. “Jose’s life was protected while he was fighting off the dog before we got to him.”
“Karaitiana moved so quickly, it was unbelievable,” his mother, Maude, said. “Also Leeroy seemed to have superhuman strength as he carried our gear up the hill. Our boys were amazing.”
“Our family has gained a stronger bond now and we realise how precious life is. This incident proved that my boys really care for each other, whether or not they want to admit it,” she smiled.
The Maxwell family are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Roseanne Jones contributed to this post.