Rebekah Forgey and Isabella George are cousins who haven't spoken publicly about what happened on that run until now.
They agreed to meet at a place they've both avoided since October 1 of last year.
"Your life can change in an instant," Rebekah said.
Everything seemed to be going so well. They were just about at the end of jog around the country roads that bordered their Grandfather's property.
The vicious attack they were about to endure, came with no warning.
"It was silent, it was silent," Rebekah remembers.
Four bright white pit bulls were watching them and ready to pounce.
"One noticed us, and then the other three just followed suit and we were just like oh, that is when I knew we were in trouble," Rebekah said.
Isabella's home was in sight across the field.
"Closest house is too far away. They will probably out run me and it might be even worse if they jump on me," Rebekah remembers. "They started circling us and initially I was bit in the back side and then I fell down in the field and they started attacking."
The dogs' owner Rick Darter appeared and tried to intervene.
"He was scared too, just as we were," Isabella said.
The dogs bit Darter too.
"The attack lasted for about 30 minutes," Rebekah said. "They got my head pretty bad. Most of my scalp at the top was ripped off and my right leg was down to the bone. It was intense."
Rebekah curled up in a ball. Dirt and blood covered her back. She pressed he face into the rough stubble of the harvested bean field and started to pray.
"I was like God you need to send somebody. You need to send somebody fast, because I thought by the end, I thought I was going to die, because I was bleeding so much and I was fading in and out," Rebekah remembers.
“God, you need to send somebody”
At that moment, Janet Eikenberry started to drive home from her daughter's house which is nearby.
Eikenberry says during the visit, she felt a sudden wave of exhaustion. It washed over her body and caused her to changes plans for the night.
Instead of proceeding to go check on her mother, Eikenberry decided to head home to Flora.
It meant she turned left along 600 South, an unusual route for her to take.
She was less than a mile from her daughter's house, when she remembers hearing something.
"It was just kind of a rattle," Eikenberry said.
It was a loud noise. Perhaps the floor boards on her SUV were stuck, maybe she hit something, she thought.
"I got out of my car walked around look at it," She remembers.
She found nothing. But as she walked back to the driver’s seat, she took notice of something in the harvested field and dogs running.
"She could hear us screaming," Rebekah says.
"That is the miracle aspect of the story," Rebekah's Mother, Tabitha Forgey said.
"It still gives me chills when I think about it," Rebekah said. "I just know that God answered my prayers because I prayed and she showed up right at that time."
Eikenberry jumped into action. She sped toward the girls, driving her white Cadillac Escalade out to the middle of the field. She describes the scene as horrific.
Isabella was standing, waving and taking charge.
She ordered Eikenberry to stay in the vehicle and with the help of the dog owner lifted Rebekah into the car. They used Eikenberry's phone to call 911.
"Isabella was so strong she knew what needed to be done it was very obvious that she had been trying to protect Rebekah. She was still trying to protect and take care of Rebekah and she made sure Rebekah was the first to be treated," Eikenberry said.
Rebekah took a STAT flight helicopter to St Vincent.
The head of the Trauma center Dr. Lewis Jacobson says she arrived with a significant, severe, potentially life-threatening injury.
The trauma team of nearly 30 people with multidisciplinary specialists worked through the night to stop the bleeding: save her leg, her scalp, her life..
|When the woman saw what was happening and drove into the field, |
the pit bulls scattered giving her a chance to save the girls.
Paul estimates he used 150 stitches to close up to 50 lacerations across Rebekah's back and arms. Her scalp injury is the most life-altering.
"30 to 40 percent of her hair bearing scalp is no longer able to produce a hair anymore," Paul said.
There is no long hair above her forehead, but Rebekah is grateful for the majority of her hair that remains along her neckline.
"I have most of my hair, but it's healing really well, it looks much better," Rebekah said.
“I'm so thankful for everything I still have”
Amazingly neither girl has an injury to their face.
"We kept focusing on, her face is ok, her face is ok," Tabitha Forgey said.
"They were able to save my leg. I am able to walk without a prosthetic you know it’s amazing I'm so thankful for everything I still have," Rebekah said.
She's had fun sampling wig styles and even has spent a few days as a blonde.
"I've always been told ever since I was younger that your beauty doesn't come from the outside it comes from the inside," Rebekah said.
It's a belief both girls embrace. Each has scars that are slow to fade.
"All the tissue on my leg was being separated from muscle and other things, so it's not back yet," Isabella said.
But they both feel better. They know they are getting stronger physically and emotionally.
The trip back to the scene is easier now, knowing the dogs were put down and there's a new owner of the property where it happened.
The dogs' owner, Rick Darter (aka Richard Darter), pleaded guilty to 8 charges in the case and could get up to 4 years in prison.
Isabella's parents trust the penalty will be fair.
"You need to face consequences for actions and thing's you are responsible for." said Derrick George, Isabella's.
The legal fight and punishment is not a concern for the girls.
Both are re-enrolled at I-U Kokomo.
"It feels great I'm so excited" Rebekah said. She missed one semester but with a full class load - she's on track and hopeful for what's ahead.
"Finishing school and getting a career is my plan so we'll see and if a special someone comes along get married and have a family, that's my plan," Rebekah said.
It's a plan possible because Eikenberry showed up at the right place at the right time. The Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby honored her for life-saving heroics. Eikenberry assigns credit elsewhere.
"Sometimes God just puts a rattle in your car I think, just because you need to stop," Janet said.
(WTHR - Feb 5, 2016)