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Aunt of 9-year-old killed in dog attack: "It's just such a tragic way for her to pass."

Posted: 5:41 PM, Aug 20, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-20 17:45:33-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Family members are remembering Emma Hernandez as a playful little girl who loved school and playing outside.

“Such a beautiful child. Very happy. Very smart," said her aunt and Godmother, Claudia Stapleton.

The 9-year-old was riding her bike Monday when she was mauled to death by three pit bulls on Detroit’s southwest side.

“We’re very devastated. It’s just a tragic way for her to pass.”

“I know this could have been prevented. And as a dog owner myself, there’s thing you could have done and he could have done," Stapleton told Action News.

Family told Action News they’ve been concerned about the dogs before, and said they’re not properly fenced in. According to them, Emma’s 12-year-old brother was among the people who ran to help; he witnessed aftermath of the attack.

“I imagine my sisters and they’re around the same age too and it’s like, I just sat on my bed and I just couldn’t even get up," said Hernandez's neighbor Anahi Gonzales.

A Go Fund Me for Emma’s family has already raised around $30,000: https://www.gofundme.com/f/paying-tribute-for-emma-valentina-hernandez

Detroit Police said given the severity of the attack, it's likely all three dogs will be put down. Their owner was arrested Monday following the attack; it's unclear what if any charges he will face.