A living tree will be dedicated tonight during a ceremony in Delhi in memorial to a toddler who was mauled to death by a pitbull.
Colton Smith was a 17-month-old boy who died when he was attacked by a pitbull on Oct. 23, 2009.
The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. tonight at the Merced County Sheriff’s Department’s Delhi Sub-Station at the corner of Shanks Road and Schendel Avenue. Merced County Sheriff Deputy Joey Cardenas and Colton’s family will light the tree and mount a plaque dedicating the tree to Colton. The tree will continue to be lit each following year, said sheriff spokesman Deputy Tom MacKenzie.
On Oct. 23, 2009, Colton was being watched by his babysitter at the family’s home. The babysitter was also caring for a 65-pound pitbull “Max” that belonged to her future in-laws who were in the process of moving.
The dog suddenly turned on the toddler and bit him around his throat and upper arm. The dog dragged the child around the yard by the throat, refusing to let go until the babysitter stabbed it several times with a fork, MacKenzie said.
The baby sitter called 911, but decided that because of his injuries she would get him to the hospital on her own. The woman never spoke to the 911 operators and deputies were dispatched to the residence to perform a welfare check. The deputies found a large puddle of blood on the doorstep when they arrived, MacKenzie said.
A short distance away, at Swanson and Merced avenues, a sheriff’s deputy was pulling over a car that was driving erratically. The car pulled over to the side of the road and a woman jumped out of the car with the injured baby in her arms, MacKenzie said.
An ambulance responded to the scene and transported the child to Emanuel Medical Center, where he was air-lifted to the Children’s Hospital in Madera. The child was pronounced dead a short time later, MacKenzie said.
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