11/25/2014

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'It felt like knives': Victims of otter attack home, recovering

'It felt like knives': Victims of otter attack home, recovering

TULALIP, Wash. -- The two victims of an unusual otter attack are back home and recovering this week - one, with hundreds of stitches to her face, head, and body.

Lelani Grove, who helped pull the otter off of her grandson as it attacked him, said her family had only been at the Pilchuck River about 15 minutes when the attack happened Thursday morning.

"I hear my daughter screaming, 'What's going on, Bryce?' When I looked closer, there was something on his head - over his head - and around his body," she said. "She's screaming and he's screaming and I see him go back under water. This thing obviously was heavy enough to where it took him under."

"When I saw that happen," she continued, "I just ran."

Grove's grandson, Bryce Moser, had been playing on a nearby rope swing and swimming in the water before the attack. The family has visited the popular swimming hole - under the Russell Road bridge - for years, they said.

Moser, who is 8-years old, said Monday that he didn't remember much about what happened. Doctors put nine staples in his head, and bandages on his arms and body.

"I could see that it was biting into his head and it had its claws around him, so I just swam out there and I grabbed the claws to pull it off of him," Grove said. "Its neck was long enough that it just started biting on me, and biting into me."

"It felt like little knives going in," she added. "I just remember trying to hold it as tight as I can and yelling, 'Get him out of the water! Get him out of the water!'"

Both Grove and her grandson went to the hospital, but were released by Friday night. Grove has hundreds of stitches to her face and head and may have minor long-term damage to her right eye, she said.

The area where this happened remains closed to the public, said Sgt. Jennifer Maurstad with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Officials were still trying to locate and trap the otter.

"We've decided if it's a male, it'd probably be euthanized," Maurstad said. "If it's a female with pups, it would probably be relocated."

Otter attacks on humans are extremely rare, Maurstad said. A single case was reported in Washington state in 2013, though not as severe, she added.

Grove said her family wasn't sure why the otter attacked, but that she wanted to make other people aware of what happened.

"We respect animals. We know it's their natural habitat, too," she said. "I really don't want this to happen to anybody else."

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