HONEA PATH — Residents are still reeling from the attack that put one of their own in a Greenville hospital.
Everyone expressed similar sentiments, that they are praying for her and her family and they can’t believe what happened.
Kyleen Waltman was walking along a section of Ball Road when she was attacked by three dogs. The attack left her with severe injuries, including the loss of her arms and a damaged colon.
Justin L. Minor, the owner of the dogs involved in the attack, received a $15,000 surety bond from the Abbeville County Magistrate’s Court during a Thursday session. According to a spokeswoman with the Court, surety bond means Minor will have to come up with money or work with a bondsman.
Waltman is stable as of Thursday morning, according to Eric Vaughn Jr., the manager of Lou & Perry’s restaurant, where Kyleen and her mother, Diane, work. He said he heard that doctors planned to wake her up Thursday.
She has worked at the restaurant since she was 17 or 18 years old. Vaughn said he has known Waltman for nearly all of his life.
“She’s a tough woman for sure and I’m hoping she’ll be able to fight this,” he said.
Her mother is taking it hard. She visited the restaurant early Thursday before leaving for the hospital in Greenville. Much of Waltman’s family is at the hospital.
“I hate it. All we can do is let the doctors do their best and let everything take its path,” he said.
When he first heard of the attack, Vaughn said he couldn’t believe it. “My heart is disappointed. She ain’t blood. She’s like an older sister. I’m still just shocked because you don’t see anything like that.”
Waltman was there to visit someone. Vaughn said she doesn’t normally walk down that road.
Vaughn said he has driven through the area on hunting trips and he never had a problem. “You wouldn’t think that anything would happen.”
Customers and co-workers are taking it rough, he said. Vaughn, however, expressed pride in people’s reactions to the attack. Customers donated up to $1,000 to the family to help with Waltman’s medical expenses.
He noted a group of women traveled from North Carolina to provide funds. He also has fielded phone calls from people who want to donate to Kyleen. He said the best way to help out is to donate to the gofundme account that Kyleen’s sister, Amy Wynne, set up.
By early Thursday, up to $44,000 had been raised. By late afternoon Thursday, more than $56,400 had been donated by nearly 1,200 people.
“I just hope for the best for them,” he said. “I pray for them every day. No matter what the problem we’ll always always be there for them.”
For people who intend to visit the area, Vaughn said he wouldn’t advise them to get out of their vehicle.
Typical forestThe section of Ball Road where the attack happened is a dirt and gravel path, lined with the kind of piney woods forest that can be found in almost any part of South Carolina. Fields and various kinds of houses ranging from mobile homes to brick houses dot the area.
It’s not a place where anyone would expect an attack.
They had her in the gutter, said Benjamin Alewine, a neighbor and cousin of Minor. A neighbor had gotten to her and got the dogs off her. She was lying there. She had lost meat off her arms and had an injury on the side of her head. Alewine circled his fingers to the size of the bottom of a coffee cup and placed it on the side of his head to demonstrate the injury.
“I ain’t never seen no dog do that to anyone,” he said. “This is the most awful sight I ever seen, for a dog attack.”
That was the first time he had seen Waltman in the area for a long time. “She didn’t have a chance.”
“It’s hard to forget it. “I asked her what her name was and she couldn’t even move her lips.”
Alewine said he didn’t know where Minor got the dogs. Although they are cousins and neighbors, they don’t hang out. He said Minor has a habit of picking up strays and would fatten them up.
During a walk down Ball Road about three days ago, Alewine said he carried a PVC pipe for protection.
“If you ain’t got a stick in your hand, they’ll bite you,” he said.
Everybody should keep their dogs locked up. Alewine recalled walking in the woods and seeing dogs about 20 feet away from him and then they started growling at him.
He kept a chihuahua for about three years. He disappeared about three weeks ago. Alewine wondered if the dogs got his pet.
During the interview, dogs howled in the distance. Alewine noted those dogs were kept in a pen. People claim they don’t know about the county’s leash law. He supposes they just ignore it.
“I’m scared of walking on my property at night,” he said. “It shouldn’t happen.” He said when he is out in the dark, sometimes he hears something growling.”
Alewine noted his wife can’t walk well. That prompted him to think of what could have happened.
“I couldn’t handle it,” he said.
“We didn’t know who she was until the deputies arrived and pulled out her license,” he said. “I came back to the house crying.”
“She was nice to everyone,” he said of Waltman, whom he said he has known for about 25 years.
“She’ll pull through it. It’ll be hard for her,” he said. “She’s a fighter.”
A man at the 154 Ball Road residence insisted the dogs don’t run up to people. He declined to identify himself.
“People think we raise bad dogs. We don’t,” he said. During the interview, he held a cellphone and a woman on the other end occasionally interjected comments.
He said he understands the dogs are dead. The family surrendered the dogs. Authorities also took up to three other dogs on the property.
It was an accident, he said. The dogs had been well-behaved. They would run from people if they yelled at them.
To demonstrate, he turned to a 4-year-old German Shepard he named Max. The dog had been wandering the lot, not paying attention to anyone or anything. The resident held out a medium-sized funnel and called to Max. His lethargy disappeared as he did a zoomie to bite the funnel out of his hand. He missed but gnawed at it when the resident dropped the funnel.
The dogs are not starving, he said. The family regularly opens bags of dog food and pours it out on the ground.
The dogs weren’t trained, but were raised fine, he said.
The attack hasn’t deterred Dean Bentley from his walks with his dog, Shoestring. He was out Thursday morning on the paved section of Ball Road. He doesn’t walk Shoestring on the dirt and gravel section, restricting his walks to Hawthorne Road.
He has never had any problems, and before Monday, had never heard of dog attacks in the area. There are good folks in the neighborhood. “They’ll do anything for you,” Bentley said.
Bentley said he doesn’t see big dogs running around. “If I did, I wouldn’t be walking.”
People shouldn’t let their dogs loose. He keeps Shoestring in the house and keeps her on a lease when outside.
The owners of the dogs should have known better. Bentley said he feels for both Waltman and Minor.
“I hope she can have a productive life,” he said.
‘I ain’t no hero’That sums up Avery Presley’s account of the attack. He was first on the scene of the attack. He was driving his tractor up Ball Road on his way to feed his cows when he saw a group of dogs just off the side of the road surrounding what he thought was an animal.
“I still feel guilty about not getting there earlier,” he said several times during the interview.
“I always carry a gun for safety,” the Vietnam veteran said.
As he approached the scene, two of the dogs left; one didn’t. He approached Presley. When he was about eight feet away, Presley said he fired his gun and the dog walked away. He didn’t want to fire the gun earlier as he realized what was going on.
Then he called E-911. The deputies arrived about eight minutes later. EMS arrived about 18 minutes later, he said.
Dogs in the neighborhood often run after vehicles that go up and down Ball Road, Presley said.
Dogs have gone after his chickens which wander his yard. Presley said he shot and killed a dog on his property about three weeks ago when it chased his chickens.
There is a leash law here. When he had a dog, Presley said he tied it up at night. People should abide by the leash law.
Presley recalled telling his daughter, who works as a nurse in North Augusta, about the attack and his regret about not getting there earlier. She said, “Dad, if you had been there earlier, it could have been you.”