Stonewall resident Daniel Murray is lucky to be alive today and he credits a fellow Stonewall resident for saving him.
Murray was attacked by a pack of vicious dogs July 8 when a good Samaritan — 24-year-old Jennifer Sweet — came to his aid.
“That Jennifer is a hero,” Murray said. “She’s my hero.”
Murray is a slim and trim 47-year-old who runs marathons as a hobby. He trains every morning to avoid the oven-like heat of midday and was out for his usual morning run when the attack occurred. He set out in the pre-dawn hours running west down Jesse Road.
Four miles out and four miles back, was the plan. As he neared Stonewall at about mile seven-and-a-half, dogs ranging in size from medium to large attacked him at his legs.
Murray, afraid if he was knocked down he would be killed, fought back. He carries a pocket knife with him when he runs and used it as the dogs were attacking.
“I pulled out my pocket knife and decided, ‘I have to stand and fight these dogs off,’” he said. “I wasn’t having much luck. When one would come at me, I’d swing at that one, then another would get me from behind.”
Murray began running down the highway toward Stonewall. The dogs pursued and kept up the attack. Murray — fatigued and winded — again stopped to fight.
“I was getting too tired,” he said. “I was swinging the knife all around me like a windmill at these dogs all around me, and I was getting some of them, but not enough to make them stop. They were just like devil dogs...like they were possessed.”
Murray said besides the vicious bites, the dogs’ loud barking and growling made the situation more tense.
Sweet help arrives
He again fled and that’s when Sweet pulled upon the scene.
Sweet, who drives her husband to work every morning, was returning to Stonewall a little earlier than usual and she witnessed Murray’s struggle.
“He would try to run away a little bit, and there would be one right on him,” she said. “He would try to back up and there would be one in the back, then he would go forward and one would get in front of him. They were surrounding him, so no matter which way he went they were there.”
Sweet — who was alone with her toddler son —faced a dilemma of her own; get out to help, and she too could end up a victim.
“I drove my car out where he was to see if I could honk the horn and maybe scare the dogs away, but it didn’t work,” she said.
“She was honking her horn and I could tell by the look on her face she was scared to death,” Murray said.
“It was very scary,” Sweet said. “I don’t even know how to describe it, but it’s something that I’ve never seen before. It was frightening.”
“She was driving her car beside me,” he said. “I was covered in sweat and blood, and she had her baby in the back seat, so I didn’t want to just jump in her car.”
Sweet called 911 while helping. Murray again tried to run before stopping to fight. Exhausted, and polite, Murray asked if he could get on the hood of the car.
“She said, ‘Yah, yah, get on the hood’” Murray said. “And so I did and she whisked me away to safety.”
Murray said they drove for several blocks and were approaching Stonewall Schools when the dogs finally gave up the chase.
Murray refused an ambulance ride to the hospital and drove himself to an urgent care clinic in Ada where he received treatment for numerous lacerations and puncture wounds.
The dogs were captured by Stonewall police and are being held in quarantine, pending rabies testing. After testing, they will be destroyed.
On Wednesday, Sweet was presented with a Citizenship Award by Stonewall police for her good deed. She was also given a gift card courtesy of Stonewall Chamber of Commerce.
“They gave her that award that last night with a $50 gift card for the Rib Crib and I personally bought her a $50 gift certificate from Santa Fe Cattle Company,” Murray said Thursday. “I told her if she ever needs me for anything, I’m indebted to her. I believe she saved my life.”
“I told him, ‘you don’t owe me anything, I’m just glad I was there,’” Sweet said. “It makes me feel good to know that I helped somebody.”
Murray said he won’t let the attack stop him from doing what he loves, running.
“I’ll never quit running,” Murray said.
Murray said he has qualified to run in the Boston Marathon.
“Hopefully, I’ll get to run it next April,” he said.