Things That Matter

Detroit Millionaire Raises Money For Young Girl’s Funeral After She Died From Vicious Dog Attack

On Monday morning, Emma Valentina Hernandez, 9, enjoyed a hearty breakfast, passed her back-to-school physical and spent the afternoon riding her bike in her Detroit neighborhood. That’s when three dogs, described as pit bulls by the police, attacked her in an alley. One of her neighbors heard her screaming and ran to the alley where she laid. Emma’s neighbors all tried to help save her, one even fired a gun and shot one of the dogs.

Her father, Armando, performed CPR on the scene. Today, he says he feels ’empty’ after paramedics were unable to save her. Emma died from her injuries.

Emma Hernandez’s family describes her as “a smart and silly girl… a beautiful soul inside and out.”

@USRealityCheck / Twitter

Emma leaves behind two brothers, ages 12 and 4, who will be returning to the Academy of the Americas without her next week. They’re currently with their abuela in Detroit while their parents grieve.

Just one week before Emma’s death, Armando got into a fight with the dogs’ owner over the inadequate fence enclosure.

@Marlenabobena / Twitter

He told Detroit News that he had warned the owner that his yard fence, the one his dogs eventually lept over to attack Emma, was too flimsy. Neighbors told the outlet that they had filed police reports about the dogs, who seemed too skinny, and were roaming the neighborhood freely.

The dog’s owner is in custody, and the dogs are likely going to be euthanized.

While a bullet didn’t stop the attack, a cement brick was finally enough to scare the dogs away.

@JennSchanzWXYZ / Twitter

“I went and grabbed a brick and threw it right at the dog,” neighbor Edward Cruz told CNN affiliate WXYZ. “They all ran and I stood next to the girl to make sure she was OK and I yelled out for help.”

That’s when Deborah Golden heard the screaming and ran to find Emma laying on her back with bite marks on her neck.

@wxyzdetroit / Twitter

A neighbor quickly called on Armando to come help his daughter. Around the corner from his house, Emma laid in a pool of blood, with Golden performing CPR. Armando applied pressure to the wounds in her neck to help stop the bleeding. The injuries were too severe to be recovered from, and she died at the hospital.

Emma’s injuries were so appalling, counseling services were offered to emergency responders.

Untitled. Digital Image. Chavez Academy. 21 August 2019.

Detroit Police Department Captain Russel Solano told CNN affiliate WDIV, “It’s hard for me not to cry. It’s tough, real tough. We’re talking about a 9-year-old girl who was just out there playing, and now she’s not here.”

“This is her neighborhood. She should be able to be free,” tía and godmother to Emma, Claudia Stapleton told WDIV.

@freep / Twitter

“This is her neighborhood. She should be able to be free and do what every kid does — walk around, ride their bikes — they shouldn’t be afraid to be in their own neighborhood,” Claudia said, holding a photo of Emma in front of her family’s home and memorial. “This is just very devastating. Very, very hurtful for this family.”

A Detroit millionaire has helped raise nearly $50k for Emma’s funeral costs in less than 24 hours.

@pulte / Twitter

Claudia was on her way to the cemetery to help the family understand the funeral costs for her niece when a friend called to let her know that the funeral was paid for. Founder of The Blight Authority, Bill Pulte, shared the GoFundMe link. A few hours later, he tweeted again, to assure the family that he would personally make sure the family doesn’t have to pay for the funeral.

A warrant is pending for the dogs’ owners but has not been issued.

@wxyzdetroit / Twitter

The Detroit police are handling the investigation, and Detroit Police Chief James Craig is not mincing words in getting justice for Emma. “Certainly the owner has a responsibility when they have violent animals that those animals are to be secure at all times,” Craig said in a press conference Tuesday morning. “I believe that, and if you can’t secure the animal, you shouldn’t have the animal — period, not open for conversation.”

While many sympathizers for Emma have taken to Twitter to call for murder charges against the owner, the prosecutor’s office has not disclosed what charges they are considering.

READ: Authorities Are Investigating The Tragic Death Of A Couple In Front Of Their Son While On Vacation In Guerrero

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Family Of Man Who Died From Taco Eating Contest Sue Fresno Grizzlies Owner

Entertainment

Family Of Man Who Died From Taco Eating Contest Sue Fresno Grizzlies Owner

Dana Hutchings, 41, entered a taco eating contest during a Fresno Grizzlies game in 2019. He choked and died during the contest and now his son has filed a lawsuit against the baseball team.

The son of a man who died from a taco eating contest is suing for wrongful death.

Dana Hutchings, 41, died after choking during a taco eating contest during a Fresno Grizzlies game. His son has filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming that the event organizers were not equipped to host the event. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that the organizers failed to provide a medical response team.

“People say all the time he knew what he was getting into, well clearly he didn’t,” Martin Taleisnik, an attorney representing Hutchings’ son, Marshall told CBS17.

Marshall and his attorney are pushing back at the notion that Dana should have known better.

People have sounded off on social media criticizing the family for filing the lawsuit. Yet, the family and their attorney are calling attention to the lack of information given to contestants.

“If you don’t know all the pitfalls, how can you truly be consenting and participating freely and voluntarily? It’s a risk that resulted in a major loss to Marshall,” Taleisnik told CBS17.

Dana’s family is seeking a monetary settlement from the Fresno Grizzlies owners.

The wrongful death lawsuit names Fresno Sports and Events as the responsible party. The lawsuit also notes that alcohol was made available to contestants and added to the likelihood of the tragedy.

“We are devastated to learn that the fan that received medical attention following an event at Tuesday evening’s game has passed away. The Fresno Grizzlies extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the family of Mr. Hutchings,” a statement from the Fresno Grizzlies read after the death in 2019. “The safety and security of our fans is our highest priority. We will work closely with local authorities and provide any helpful information that is requested.”

READ: Kobe Bryant’s Wrongful Death Lawsuit Has Tragically Been Moved To Federal Court Despite Vanessa Bryant’s Pleas

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Woman Who Watched Her Mother Die Before Her Eyes While At Sea As A 9-Year-Old Reunited With Her Rescuers

Fierce

Woman Who Watched Her Mother Die Before Her Eyes While At Sea As A 9-Year-Old Reunited With Her Rescuers

May 20, 1986, started out for Desireé Rodriguez and her family as an idyllic morning.

At the time, Desireé’s father (a 30-year-old construction worker by the name of Thomas Rodriguez) had taken her, her mother, and sister as well an aunt and uncle out to Catalina Island for a day of sailing. The plan was to go out, fish, and bask in the summer sun before heading back home. In the evening, just as they were headed home the family was impacted by a dense fog. Desireé and her 5-year-old sister Trisha awoke from a nap on the boat to calls from her father to abandon ship and within minutes the entire family was lost at sea. Out in the water and away from their boat that had capsized.

 The family of six was stranded in the chilly Pacific water for hours and Desireé watched as her father first went to swim for rescue and never returned. In the hours that slowly stretched by Desireé witnessed the death of her sister, her mother, her uncle and then her aunt.

Decades have passed since her family’s accident but Desireé has lived to tell of the story thanks to the two men who rescued her.

In a recent piece by The New York times, Desireé was reunited with the two men who were remarkably able to save her after she spent a nightmarish 20 hours in the ocean.

Only 9-years-old at the time of the tragic events, Desireé recalls believing that her father would return with help when he first swam away from the boat. “My dad was like the superhero to me. I actually thought he would get help,” Desireé explained before calling the desperate hours that followed. After watching her family members die, she found herself all alone.

“At that point, I just kind of made the decision, I need to get away from this boat,” Desireé recalled to the New York Times. “I need to swim away, somewhere else. … Where? I don’t know.”

Just when Desireé decided to give up hope, the skipper of a commercial sportfishing boat spotted her orange life jacket in the water.

The boat’s first officer leapt into the water and fished Desireé out of the water. Desireé was ultimately transported back to San Pedro and never saw her rescuers again.

“I don’t think I would have lived, I’ll be honest with you. I think at that point, I was just kind of done,” Desireé explained in a recent interview about the incident. According to an article at the time that described the incident, Desireé had suffered no major physical injuries and was “in good spirits.” She left the hospital in San Pedro the next time.

“I had even hoped that my dad did make it somewhere,” Desireé explained of her thinking of the time. “Maybe he is living on an island and just got amnesia and didn’t know that he has a family. You know, you always have hope. But you get older, and reality sets in, and you’re like, OK. He didn’t make it.”

Paul Strasser and Mark Pisano, the two men who rescued her, ultimately earned commemorative plaques for their bravery from Mayor Tom Bradley. Desireé Rodriguez, now Desireé Campuzano, was adopted by another aunt and uncle who raised her. She went onto attend junior college in Fullerton, built herself a career in criminal justice, married and had a son. Still, she always wondered what had happened to the men who saved her.

It wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that Strasser and Pisano came into contact with Philip Friedman who launched a podcast about his hobby as a fisherman.

“Friedman Adventures” which launched this past December, shares incredible stories from fishermen. Ine one episode Pisano spoke about the 1986 rescue.

“It’s kind of a weird story, kind of like there are some supernatural qualities,” Pisano explained of the experience on the podcast.

Friedman felt motivated to unite the two rescuers and Desireé. Ultimately a friend of Desireé’s heard the episode when it aired and made the connection. He reached out to Desireé and then Friedman and ultimately she and her rescuers were reunited.

“I was nervous at first,” Desireé said of meeting Strasser and Pisano “just seeing [the] guys and putting kind of finalization to the ‘what happened.’” The three were finally reunited during another episode of the podcast.

“I feel like she’s sort of our daughter, in a way, because we brought her back to life,” Strasser said during their reunion. “Even though we never knew each other.”

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