BIG PRAIRIE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan State Police are investigating the death of a Newaygo County woman who appears to have been attacked and killed by a family dog.
Around 7 p.m. Tuesday, troopers were called to Sharon Lee Daniels’ home in Big Prairie Township, northeast of Newaygo.
MSP say Daniels was unresponsive when they arrived. First responders tried to revive Daniels, but the 77-year-old woman died at the scene.
State police say Daniels had disabilities — she was missing a leg and had cancer — and was confined to a wheelchair. Detectives say it appears one of three family dogs she was home alone with bit her repeatedly, which led to her death.
“Multiple dog bites coupled with some underlying health issues contributed to that being a fatal accident,” MSP Lt. Matthew Kanitz said Wednesday.
Authorities have ordered an autopsy to confirm the cause of death.
Adi Huedepohl said Daniels, who she had known for some 40 years, was like a mother to her.
“Everybody that met her, instantly there was a bond,” Huedepohl told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday evening. “She once told me, ‘There’s not too many strangers that I don’t like.’
“She was one of the good ones,” Huedepohl continued. “Mom, I know you’re going to be with us, but it’s still going to be hard. A lot of people are going to miss her.”
She said breaking the news to her son was tough.
“She’s the only grandma my youngest son has known in his life, and he got up for school this morning,” she said, tears welling up. ‘(I said, ‘You might not feel like going to school today.’ And he said, ‘Why, Mom?’ And I said, ‘Because Grandma Daniels died last night,’ and he broke down. He was crying in my lap.”
It’s unclear what led to the attack. There’s no indication there were previous problems with the dogs, which were described as pit bulls.
“Those dogs have been in the house and they’re part of the family,” Lt. Kanitz said. “She knew those dogs and those dogs knew her.”
Huedepohl said the dogs were owned by one of Daniels’ family members. She doesn’t blame the breed for the tragedy.
“It’s not the animal,” she said. “It’s the owner.”
All three dogs were taken by Newaygo County Animal Control officers and quarantined at the Newaygo County Animal Shelter. Whether they will be destroyed has yet to be determined, though it’s unusual for a dog not to be put down if it kills someone.
—24 Hour News 8’s Barton Deiters contributed to this report.