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Children fight off raccoon attack - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Children fight off raccoon attack

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KIRBY, Vt. -

"I was terrified and shocked at the same time," said Irie Campbell, 11.

A scary turn during a play date in the woods Sunday. Irie and her friend, Piper Rolfe, were hanging out with Irie's 5-year-old brother, Felix, behind Piper's house in Kirby.

"My brother was standing right over there in that area and then all of a sudden he started to scream and run up the hill," Irie said.

Around noon, the kids say a hissing raccoon appeared out of nowhere and went straight for Irie, first jumping right at her face.

"So I put my hands up to my face like this. And then it grabs onto my thumb," Irie said. "I started to choke it with my left hand and then it started to fall off and then it grabbed a hold of me right here. I started to choke it with both hands. Then it jumped up and got me on my hand and now I have four stitches there."

She suffered six bites, including one on her thigh. While little Felix screamed for help, 10-year-old Piper got in the fight.

"Piper said, 'What is it?' And I said it was a raccoon and she got a stick and started to poke it and hitting it a little which helped out a lot," Irie said.

"I already had the stick. I don't really know what I was thinking. I just thought to try to get it off Irie," Piper said.

"When Piper was beating it with a stick, I was trying to find a big enough stick. There was this really big stick. But since it was really big, I was afraid to use it," Felix said. "And then I screamed, 'Get away from my sister, raccoon!'"

The raccoon eventually let go and ran off into the woods. Irie was rushed to the emergency room where she immediately began treatment for possible rabies exposure. While the raccoon that attacked Irie was never found, it is assumed the animal was infected. The Health Department has confirmed 27 cases of rabies in Vermont so far this year, which health officials say is normal.

"No parent ever wants to get a call that your kid has been attack by a wild animal," said Derek Campbell, Irie's dad.

Campbell says he's proud his daughter was so tough, and grateful that her brave 10-year-old friend stopped the attack from being even worse.

"Piper is a little hero. She is a cool kid. I mean Piper is a tough kid. She is one that will just. I mean she will barrel down any run at the ski mountain," Derek Campbell said.

And what makes her act of heroism even more profound-- Piper is legally blind with a degenerative disorder. So where does her strength come from?

"I don't really know. I didn't want Irie to get really hurt," Piper said.

Reporter Adam Sullivan: What do you think about her?

Irie Campbell: I think that if she didn't help me out, then it would have eaten me more.

A reason for a big hug, knowing that when trouble lurks from behind the bushes, a good buddy has your back.

"She really helped out a lot," Irie said. "She's a good friend."

Irie will need a few more shots in the next couple of weeks, but doctors say she is expected to be OK.

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