Carlton Freeman, 80, of Harleyville, South Carolina, was driving his motorized wheelchair last week on Springbranch Road, near his home, when he was attacked by four brown Pit Bulls, according to Major John Garrison, a spokesman for the Dorchester County Sheriff's Department. The community is
50 miles northwest of Charleston.
Freeman, who retired from the railroad, had both legs amputated at the knee two years ago due to diabetes, according to the report. His wife of 35 years, Rita, told reporters he did his best to defend himself and keep the Pit Bulls away from his throat. but they pulled him out of his wheelchair and savagely attacked as he tried to fight them off. Freeman told emergency responders that the dogs bit him and pulled him by his clothing.
Witnesses who saw the attack and identified the dogs said it appeared the Pit Bulls were trying to pull the helpless man into the wooded area by the road.
Coroner Chris Nesbit said on Tuesday that Freeman died Sunday in the hospital from injuries sustained in the mauling. "Upon my examination of Mr. Freeman, it is a wonder that this gentleman was able to hang on as long as he did," said Nesbit in a statement. "He had bites and lacerations from his legs to the top of his head. This is very sad story, but even worse that Mr. Freeman was basically helpless to the attack, due to being a bi-lateral amputee."
Deputies were able to catch three of the dogs--the mother and two pups. All had blood on their fur and were impounded at a local animal shelter. They reportedly belonged to a woman in the neighborhood, 61-year-old Barbara Goodwin, who is a member of Freeman’s family. Deputies are still trying to locate the fourth Pit Bull, according to Christian Today. A report from the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office said the dogs had been roaming the streets for months.
Before he died, a family member said that Carlton Freeman had asked that no charges be pressed. He said his only concern is that the dogs were not allowed to roam so that they might hurt children in the area.
No charges have been filed as deputies search for the remaining dog and an investigation is conducted.
This is the second fatal dog mauling in Dorchester County in a little over a year. In April 2012, a 2-month-old baby boy was killed and dismembered by a family dog after he was pulled from his swing. His father was asleep in the next room. (Read more: Dog Kills, Dismembers 2-Month-Old Boy in South Carolina)