It was October 1, 2015, and two young women, Rebekah Forgey and Isabella George, aged 20 and 19, were out for a run. The two Indiana women are cousins as well as firm friends. Their run took them to a remote, rural area of Carroll County, along South County Road 225 East.
Rebekah and Isabella knew the road well – it ran along the boundary of their grandfather’s land and they could see Isabella’s house a little way off as they neared the end of their run. There was nothing to suggest that the two were in any danger whatsoever.
But danger there was, and when it came, it came suddenly and without warning. As they passed a rundown property surrounded by an overgrown yard, a pack of dogs bounded out onto the road. The two women were confronted by four large white pit bulls.
Speaking about what happened on that October day, Rebekah told WTHR, “It was silent, it was silent. One noticed us, and then the other three just followed suit and we were just like, ‘Oh.’ That is when I knew we were in trouble,” Rebekah continued.
Thoughts of escape ran through Rebekah’s mind, “[The] closest house is too far away. They will probably outrun me, and it might be even worse if they jump on me. They started circling us, and initially I was bit in the back side, and then I fell down in the field, and they started attacking.”
At that point the prospect of rescue appeared to be at hand. The owner of the dogs, Rick Darter, appeared. He tried to call the marauding hounds off. But instead of stopping their attack on Rebekah and Isabella, the dogs turned on Rick as well. Isabella told WTHR, “He was scared too, just as we were.”
By now Rebekah was in a fetal position, with her face in the dirt of the field. Prayer seemed to be her only option. “I was like, ‘God you need to send somebody,’” Rebekah recalled. “‘You need to send somebody fast,’ because, I thought by the end, I thought I was going to die, because I was bleeding so much, and I was fading in and out.”
The dogs continued their assault on the women, with Rebekah suffering the brunt of the vicious attack. “The attack lasted for about 30 minutes,” Rebekah said in her WTHR interview. “They got my head pretty bad. Most of my scalp at the top was ripped off and my right leg was down to the bone. It was intense.”
As the full horror of the nightmare unfolded, a woman named Janet Eikenberry – a complete stranger to Rebekah and Isabella – happened to be nearby. Janet was driving to her home in Flora, Indiana after visiting her daughter.
While at her daughter’s house, Janet had started to feel unwell. Because of that, she decided not to carry on and pay her mother a visit. Instead she elected to go straight home. That meant she took what was an unusual route for her. And Janet’s change of plan may well have saved three lives.
Janet wasn’t far from her daughter’s home when she heard a strange noise. Wondering if she’d hit something with the bottom of her SUV, she stopped the vehicle. “It was just a kind of rattle,” she later recalled. “I got out of my car [and] walked around [to] look at it.”
Janet couldn’t find anything amiss with her Cadillac Escalade, and she was about to get back in and drive off. But then she heard something else, and she noticed some dogs running around in an adjacent field. “She could hear us screaming,” Rebekah later explained.
“That is the miracle aspect of the story,” Rebekah’s mom, Tabitha Forgery, told WTHR. Rebekah added, “It still gives me chills when I think about it. I just know that God answered my prayers, because I prayed and she showed up right at that time.”
Janet had her own take on what had made her stop at that precise spot on a lonely road. “Sometimes God just puts a rattle in your car,” she said. And once she realized what was happening, Janet didn’t hesitate to act. She drove straight across the field, heading right for the dogs.
When Janet got to the scene, it was Isabella who took control of the situation. She shouted at Janet to stay in her vehicle, while she and Rick carried the seriously injured Rebekah to the safety of the car. Rescue had come at last. Janet later recalled, “Isabella was so strong she knew what needed to be done. It was very obvious that she had been trying to protect Rebekah.”
While Isabella was extremely shaken up by the horrific episode, it was Rebekah who had sustained the most severe injuries. She was taken to St. Vincent Heart Center by helicopter.
Dr. Lewis Jacobson of the hospital’s trauma center told WTHR that it took some 150 stitches to sew up 50 cuts on Rebekah’s scalp, legs and back, while between 30 and 40 percent of her hair bearing scalp was gone. “We basically had to reconstruct her entire lower leg [as] the front side of it was completely missing from the attack,” plastic surgeon Robert Paul said.
Thankfully, Rebekah has been making a good recovery, and she’s obviously a woman with plenty of grit. “I have most of my hair, but it’s healing really well, it looks much better,” she said. “They were able to save my leg. I am able to walk without a prosthetic you know. It’s amazing. I’m so thankful for everything I still have.”
The dogs’ owner, Richard L. Darter faced eight charges for dog bites resulting in serious injury. He pleaded guilty and was handed a four-year jail sentence. In the meantime, the four dogs have all been put down. Speaking to the Pharos-Tribune, Rebekah said, “I’m happy with the sentence and just glad that it’s over. I was ready for some closure.”
Serious though the women’s injuries were what might have happened if Janet Eikenberry hadn’t changed her plans that day hardly bears thinking about. Speaking about the incident, Sheriff Toby Leazenby said that it had been worse than any dog attack that he’d ever seen and described it as a “feeding frenzy.” And when Janet arrived, she was a very literal answer to their prayers.