Spanaway woman killed by pit bulls remembered as 'most wonderful'

Staff writerNovember 7, 2013 

Nga Woodhead, 65, died suddenly while being treated for injuries she suffered when two pit bulls attacked her.


Nga Woodhead was waiting to sign papers discharging her from the hospital Tuesday when she suffered a heart attack and died, about a week after being attacked by two pit bulls in her Spanaway neighborhood.

An autopsy showed the dog attack caused Woodhead’s death. Pierce County prosecutors have not yet determined what, if any, charges to file against the dogs’ owner. Both pit bulls were fatally shot after the incident.

The 65-year-old woman’s family is distraught and angry, but they are focusing on happy memories of the woman who walked six miles every morning and refused to let anyone else step inside her kitchen.

“She’s one of the most wonderful persons that ever walked this earth,” said her mother-in-law, Betty Woodhead, 90. “She cared about everybody more than herself. You’d have to go a long way to find anybody as sweet and nice as she was.”

Woodhead met her husband, Charles, in 1970 when he served in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in South Vietnam during the war. Wednesday would have been the couple’s 42nd wedding anniversary.

He was sitting next to his wife in her room at St. Joseph Hospital Tuesday, watching “Dr. Phil” on television, when Woodhead suddenly slumped over. He ran for help from the nurses but they weren’t able to save her.

“The attack and the trauma triggered the heart attack,” Charles Woodhead told The Seattle Times. “I’m sad and mad. I’m mad at an owner who has two pit bulls who should have known better. Now my wife is gone because of that.”

Woodhead was walking Oct. 30 in the 16200 block of Pacific Avenue South when the dogs ran up from behind and attacked without provocation, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

She used an umbrella to try and fend off the attack. A passerby stopped to help her and a neighbor offered another passerby a handgun to shoot the dogs. He shot one of the pit bulls, which ran off.

Deputies shot and killed the second dog when they arrived and it displayed aggressive behavior, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. The wounded dog was later tracked down and fatally shot.

The Medical Examiner’s Office said Woodhead’s died of a heart attacked caused by “complicating extremity contusions, lacerations and fractures” that came from dog bites. Woodhead suffered extreme injuries to one of her arms.

Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said his office is gathering police reports, animal control reports and medical examiner’s reports to review before making a charging decision against the dogs’ owner.

He said they want to learn the history of the dogs and “what the dog owner knew or should have known.”

The dogs’ owner was not able to be reached for comment Thursday. He has said the dogs were “nice” and he doesn’t know how they got out of their enclosure.

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