KENSINGTON — It’s been a wild week on the job for Asplundh tree workers Joseph Beachy and Nick Wright.
The two-man crew was working on a tree removal job for Unitil on Drinkwater Road Monday when they rushed to the aid of a local father who was wrestling with a rabid coyote in the woods.
Ian O’Reilly and his family were on a walk along the Red Trail in the Phillips Exeter Academy forest when they encountered the aggressive coyote. O’Reilly jumped into action to protect his wife and three children from the coyote, which bit him and his wife as he tackled and choked the animal.
O’Reilly’s account of the vicious attack has grabbed national headlines.
It’s an encounter he won’t soon forget. Neither will Beachy and Wright.
The two were working across from the trail when they said O’Reilly’s distraught wife approached and told them her husband was being attacked by a coyote.
Beachy took off into the woods with a stick in hand and Wright followed.
The two said they ran about half a mile before they found O’Reilly on the ground on top of the coyote.
“We kind of knew it was rabid because usually they’re not going to attack a big family like that. We knew there was something wrong with it,” said Wright, 32, of Raymond.
Beachy said he moved in and climbed onto the coyote so O’Reilly could get off and free himself.
“I took over because his wife said he was bit and injured. We wanted to take over so he could take account of himself, basically,” said Beachy, 30, of Manchester.
The coyote made some gurgling sounds and was barely moving after its fight with O’Reilly, but it still appeared to be alive, Beachy said.
As Beachy remained on top of the coyote, Wright said he pulled Beachy’s knife from his pocket and handed it to him. Beachy said he stabbed the coyote three times in the throat.
“After a few minutes it was pretty clear that it was dead,” Beachy said.
At that point, Wright said he grabbed the coyote and began dragging it out of the woods until he saw a police officer, who brought it out to the road.
Beachy and Wright said they were wearing their gloves and other protective gear at the time. While O’Reilly and his wife are receiving rabies vaccinations. Beachy and Wright said they didn’t seek treatment because they weren’t bitten.
The attack wasn’t the only one reported Monday.
Earlier in the day, a driver in the area of Drinkwater Road told police that a coyote approached their car and tried to attack. A short time later, a 62-year-old woman on nearby Hemlock Road reported that she and her two dogs were attacked by a coyote on their porch. They were treated for rabies.
While Wright is a hunter and has seen coyotes before, the experience was a new one for Beachy, who said he’s never encountered one.
They said they didn’t hesitate to rush into the woods to help out.
“We have one of the most dangerous jobs in America,” Wright said, referring to the tree removal business. But it usually doesn’t involve fighting with rabid coyotes.
As soon as things calmed down, Beachy and Wright returned to work and took down eight more trees.
This isn’t the first time the pair has lent a hand in an emergency. They were working in Stratham two weeks ago when they witnessed a fight at a gas station.
“You never know,” Beachy said.