An 9-year-old Cherokee County girl was critically injured Tuesday afternoon when she was kicked in the head by a mule.
“She’s 9 years old and she’s familiar with horses, but these were large mules,” Thomas Ross, the girl’s neighbor, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution late Tuesday.
The child, identified by Ross as Emma Johnson, was unconscious, but breathing when firefighters arrived, according to Tim Cavender, spokesman for the Cherokee County fire department. She flown to the hospital, where she remained in critical condition late Tuesday, he said.
Ross said it’s not uncommon to see animals loose along Green Drive, north of Canton. Shortly after 3 p.m. Monday, a neighbor and her daughter, Emma, were trying to lure the two mules into Ross’ empty pasture until they could find the owners, Ross said.
Emma’s mom had a bucket of feed, and the little girl followed toward the two mules, Ross said.
“She probably didn’t think a thing about it,” Ross said. “She was running and carrying a plastic feed bucket.”
When Emma got close to the back of one of the mules, the animal kicked her, Ross said.
Ross said he told the girl’s mother, who didn’t see the kick, to call 911. But when she dropped the phone, Ross said he gave the 911 operator additional information about Emma, who appeared to have a head wound.
Paramedics transported Emma by ambulance to a nearby church, where a helicopter landed to transport the girl to the hospital, Ross said. The mules’ owner, Tim Byess, later came to retrieve the animals, Channel 2 Action News reported. Byess said he wasn’t sure how the mules had gotten loose.
Investigators from county’s sheriff and marshals offices were at the scene several hours Tuesday, Ross said.
“She’s a little jewel, she really is,” Ross said. “I hope she pulls through.”