On Valentine’s Day, Maya Stewart-Daly was out for a walk in her Los Angeles neighborhood.
A medium-sized dog approached her, and within seconds she found herself being viciously attacked by three dogs. She managed to wrench her legs free and run to a nearby wall, and tried to jump on top of it until help came. But she fell on the other side, and the dogs ran around and continued the attack.
“I was screaming at the top of my lungs, ‘Help me! ‘Help me!,’” she said.
UPS driver Gary Pantolone was driving his truck when he heard her screams. He immediately stopped the delivery and ran toward the screams.
“I didn’t hesitate at all. I just stopped the truck and ran over to her,” he said. “There was a lot of adrenaline rushing.”
- Download: Download the NBCLA Mobile App
Pantalone managed to pull her over the wall, away from the attacking dogs and carry her to the safety of his truck. Stewart-Daly’s husband raced home and took her to the hospital, where she was treated for puncture wounds and nerve damage.
This week, Pantalone and Stewart-Daly were reunited for the first time since the ordeal.
“I’m just thankful he was there because I’m not sure I would have survived,” Stewart-Daly said Thursday at an event UPS hosted to honor Pantalone. “Gary is definitely my hero, he’ll always be my hero.”
But the 28-year veteran driver said he just did what needed to be done.
“I’m glad I was there at the right time and the right place to help her out,” he said. “I wish I was there a little bit earlier to prevent some of her injuries."
Stewart-Daly was unable to walk for six weeks after the incident. Following three months of treatment, she is now back at work.
“He means so much to me,” she said of Pantalone. “I’m so glad we are all able to recognize him for his brave action.”
Stewart-Daly said the dogs still live in her neighborhood, and she is pushing for action against them and their owner.