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5-year-old girl attacked by coyote — but an off-duty police officer saved her

A coyote attacked 5-year-old Natalia at a park in Westchester, New York, and she was saved by an off-duty police officer. (Image source: WNBC-TV video screenshot)

A coyote attacked a 5-year-old girl who was at the playground with her mother and brother over the weekend, but they were saved by an off-duty police officer who witnessed the attack and intervened, WNBC-TV reported.

"I'm telling you, it was like a cheetah," said the girl's mother, Kasey King-Petrellese, according to WNBC.

What happened?

Natalia Petrellese was at the park, along with her mother and her 3-year-old brother on Sunday in Westchester, New York.

At about 4 p.m., a coyote showed up at the park and suddenly charged at Natalia. Her mother fought back as the coyote lunged at her young daughter.

"I took my foot and I kicked him as hard as I could in his face, which knocked him to the ground and he stumbled a little," Kasey told WNBC. "When he got up, he swung over to my daughter's side and bit her arm."

As the fight continued, Irvington Police Officer Arcangelo Liberatore saw what was happening and sprung into action. He jumped on the coyote and put his hands around its neck, trying to choke it while the family escaped.

"I just sat and tried to squeeze the life out of it, but it was pretty resilient," Liberatore said.

Liberatore held the coyote down until Mount Pleasant police showed up and shot and killed the coyote.

"I wasn't screaming, I wasn't panicking, I wasn't scared. I was just asking for help, and that man saved my life," Natalia said to WNBC.

Why did the coyote attack?

The Westchester County Health Department tested the coyote for rabies, and the results came back positive on Tuesday, according to the New York Post.

Health department officials said it's unlikely that a coyote would interact with humans unless it had rabies.

Everyone involved in the encounter received a rabies vaccination within hours of the attack, and will have to get more over the next few weeks to ensure they don't contract the virus.

(H/T Fox News)

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