Three teachers credited with saving the life of a 7-year-old boy were honored for their role in fending off a rabid fox who attacked the boy during recess in September.
“We were playing a game near the woods and the fox just came out at me,” said Evan Witzke, a second-grader at Broad Brook Elementary School in East Windsor, Connecticut.
The fox began biting Evan on his ankle and wrist, and showed no signs of letting go until gym teacher Elissa Daniele stepped in.
“I was thinking, ‘No this is not going to happen, and I’m not going to let it happen,’” said Daniele. “I had to stop it. It was very simple.”
With no regard for her own well-being, Daniele lunged at the animal, giving Evan time to get away. She was able to pin it to the ground, but the fox began tearing at her fingers. Daniele yelled for help, a call that was heard by Denise LaPre and Justin Piwonski.
Together, the trio was able to collar the animal so Daniele could remove her fingers. They then tossed the fox in a recycling container and held it there until police arrived. The entire ordeal lasted about 20 minutes.
“You just don’t stop and think. You just do it,” said LaPre.
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Looking back, Evan’s parents said they still can't comprehend the events of that day.
“We talk about how that day is so surreal because there is no way a fox came out of the woods and attacked our son,” said his father, Craig Witzke.
As reality sets in, the Witzkes know things could have been much worse and they, along with the rest of the East Windsor community, are applauding the teachers' undeniable acts of heroism.
“It’s the heroes that do what they are supposed to do in extraordinary circumstances and that’s what they did,” said Craig Witzke.
Craig and his wife Ninita Witzke joined the East Windsor Board of Education, police department and State Rep. Chris Davis to present the teachers with plaques, flowers and certificates at a ceremony Wednesday night.
The Board of Education also plans to plant a tree and place a plaque at Broad Brook Elementary School to remind people to step up when someone needs help.