Bill Farrington, a school bus driver, and Damien Washington, a school bus attendant, acted immediately to help the girl, Despina Shnouda, after a pit bull attacked her on Oct. 9 on West 20th Street between Kennedy Boulevard and Avenue C.
The school employees, along with Despina’s father and another man, pulled the dog off her. A police officer fired on the animal, killing it. Despina was taken to the hospital but was able to return home later that day after getting several shots and stitches.
Bayonne Board of Education President Will Lawson and Superintendent of Schools Patricia McGeehan publicly recognized Farrington and Washington’s “heroic efforts” at a board meeting at the end of October, according to a school official.
“Mr. Bill Farrington and Mr. Damien Washington risked their lives to rescue a child from the jaws of a wild dog,” school administrator Dennis C. Degnan said. “Dr. McGeehan acknowledged the staff members for their quick thinking and courage and for putting the safety of this child above themselves.”
The school board awarded the two employees the Spirit of Heroism Award.
Another one of the rescuers, Avery Jefferson, 25, told The Jersey Journal on Oct. 9 that when he and others finally got the dog off the girl, it started attacking its owner. He added that the dog’s owner told the police to “do something” when they arrived and then ran into the home before an officer fired on the animal.
The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, which couldn’t immediately be reached for comment yesterday, said earlier this month that no one has been charged in the incident and that the matter was still being reviewed.