Family members have been told that preliminary autopsy results show a heart attack was the likely cause of a Dadeville man’s death on Alf Road Sunday night.
While 63-year-old James Derle Patterson did receive injuries from the bites and scratches from dogs, the man’s daughter Samantha Patterson said Tuesday that investigators had contacted her Tuesday and said that preliminary indications are that her father suffered a fatal heart attack.
“The dogs did bite him, but they said that a heart attack is what killed him,” Samantha Patterson said. “I know what people were saying, but the dogs are not what killed him.”
Jacksons Gap Police Department personnel were called to Alf Road, just off Highway 49 at 5:13 p.m. The caller reported that he had arrived to the area and that dogs had had gotten to the victim who had been riding a small gas-powered scooter.
The caller did not witness the events, but arrived to find the man surrounded by dogs.
When officials arrived, they found the man badly injured and unresponsive, about 15 yards from where the scooter was laying in the road. It was unknown how the events unfolded, as there were no witnesses to the events. Those who arrived on the scene said they saw that Patterson had sustained multiple cuts, scratches and what appeared to be bite marks.
It was not known whether those injuries happened post mortem or if Patterson may have suffered the attack trying to fend off the dogs.
There was no indication of when the final report would be complete. Typically it comes in three or four days.
Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said that Jacksons Gap Police are the lead agency on the case and his department is assisting.
“When there are no witnesses, you never know exactly how it all happened,” Abbett said.
Colleen Lynn, founder and president of dogsbite.org said that hearing that a heart attack may have occurred in this incident often happens in incidents involving dogs.
“Thankfully there will be an autopsy report that will clear this up,” Lynn said in an emailed response to The Outlook. “Bite injuries will be a contributing factor in his death or they will not be. Many dog attack victims also suffer a heart attack because they are being attacked.
“We simplify these cases to the following: If severe bite injuries were inflicted and the person quickly died due to another underlying cause (heart attack being the most frequent), it’s still counted as a U.S. dog bite fatality. These cases make up about 5 percent of all fatal dog attacks.”
Jacksons Gap Police were back on the scene Tuesday checking on the animals and dealing with follow ups which is customary is such investigations. It was unknown if charges were pending in the case or what the future of the animals may be.
A relative of the dog’s owner said that two of the dogs were injured and were put down Sunday.
Patterson lived about a mile from the scene of the incident, a property that has multiple dogs that appear to be allowed to roam around the houses and building located there. The area is rural and very secluded and Alf Road is a dead end road.
From the road where the incident took place, “Beware of Dog” signs can be seen posted on the property. A private property sign is also in plain view from the road.
Officials said the investigation remains active, and that more details will be made available when it is complete.