Hero Father Mauled Saving Little Daughter’s Life

Happy Valley, OR–Adding another Hero Father to our already considerable collection. Unlike most of the men who threw themselves in harm’s way to save their children, fortunately the father here lived.

From Dad fought off pit bull attacking his 7-year-old daughter (, 11/21/08):

HAPPY VALLEY, Ore. — A 7-year-old girl is recovering from surgery for wounds inflicted by a 90-pound pit bull during a vicious attack Wednesday in a Happy Valley backyard.

Jayda Kempas was at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, where she underwent surgery after the pit bull attacked her while playing on a tire swing, according to Clackamas County Deputy Jim Strovink.

Kempas and her father, 31-year-old Steve Hehr of Gladstone, were visiting the home on Southeast 172nd, where the dog was staying temporarily.

Hehr was bitten on his thigh and arms while attempting to save his daughter. The dog tore off his jeans and ripped his leg as he and a friend wrestled it. He also said he was worried the dog would “try and rip off my fingers” while he tried desperately to pull it off young Jayda.

“I was upset — all I could think about was my daughter, ‘It got Jayda! It got Jayda!’ and I was screaming that while I wrestled with the dog. It was the only thing on my mind,” Hehr said.

William Bahler, 47, repeatedly beat the pit bull with an aluminum baseball bat, attempting to subdue it.

Hehr told deputies he heard his daughter screaming and ran out back to find the pit bull clamped on to her leg, pulling her off the swing. Strovink said Hehr pried open the jaws of the dog with his hands and got it off of her. Tovar pulled Jayda to safety, gave her first aid and called 9-1-1.

Hehr was able to wrestle the dog, putting it in a headlock and eventually pinning it to the ground, but was bitten on the leg and in the chest. As he struggled to hold the pit bull down, Bahler and another man took turns beating the dog in an attempt to kill it…

“I thought my fingers were gone, it was life or death to me,” Hehr said. “My daughter’s so small and the dog is so big so if it would have got my daughter off the swing, it would have been over.”

Strovink said Jayda had severe cuts to both of her legs. She and her dad were taken to the hospital. Jayda was later moved to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland where she was to undergo surgery Thursday.

Her father called her a “real trooper,’ and that she was expected to recover and was in good spirits…

Hehr dislocated his shoulder during the struggle and was bitten on his hands, chest, legs and arms. Hehr is a Staff Sergeant with the Oregon National Guard, and served one tour of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

“Had it not been for the father being present and pulling the dog from the child, that girl most probably would not have survived the attack,” deputy Greg Martin said.

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