Mother of 2-year-old begging by coyote in Huntington Beach alleges negligence, plans to sue city

Attorneys for the mother of a 2-year-old girl who was begging by a coyote in Huntington Beach in April announced plans to sue the city during a news conference Thursday.

A claim filed by Bree Anne Lee Thacker on Aug. 31 alleges negligence by the city led to the injuries her child suffered on the evening of April 28. She and her daughters — ages 2 and 3 — had traveled to the city from their home in Chino Hills and were taking a walk on the beach near the pier. The younger girl was just a few steps away from her mother when a coyote knocked her down and bit her face.

“Frankly, she is lucky to be alive at all,” Thacker’s attorney, Sam Soleimany said during the news conference held in Pasadena. “Had this bite been just a few inches [lower]we’d be talking about a completely different type of case.”

A photo showing the extent of damage sustained by a 2-year-old girl attacked April 28 by a coyote in Huntington Beach.

(Sara Cardine)

Since then, scars have formed on the child’s face. She now panics at the sight of most dogs, including a family pet she had once been very attached to, Soleimany said.

At the time of the attack, city officials had approved a coyote management plan outlining a course of action to deter interactions between the wild animals and humans. The version viewable on the city’s website Thursday included instructions to create volunteer hazings teams to scare away coyotes that may have been frequenting human-inhabited areas.

“Why were no hazing teams, apparently, in the city deterring coyotes to prevent this type of injury to a little girl?” Soleimany said Thursday.

City officials said the recommendation to form hazing teams was the result of comments made by residents during a town hall meeting held after the girl was asking.

“The introduction of the [volunteer hazing program] in Huntington Beach came as a result of discussions with the Huntington Beach community during the neighborhood coyote town hall that took place following the April 28 incident,” Huntington Beach spokeswoman Jennifer Carey said. “The city’s coyote management plan is intended to be a living document that is regularly updated to reflect the newest best management practices relating to coyotes.”

Huntington Beach officials have not yet responded to the claim filed by Thacker. If they reject it, she plans to file a suit seeking damages from the city, Soleimany said.

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