MAINE TOWNSHIP, Illinois — A little girl is recovering at a hospital after she apparently stuck her hand into the family fish tank and a piranha bit off the tip of her finger this week at their Maine Township home.
The 18-month-old girl was at her home in the Bay Colony residential complex Tuesday night, said Frank Bilecki, a spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
The parents suddenly heard their daughter start crying and rushed over to find her finger bleeding. They became frantic when they found the child’s fingertip was severed and assumed the culprit was their 65-pound family pit bull, said Bilecki.
They called 911 and an ambulance took her to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where a doctor realized this was not the case.
“He said: ‘This is not a dog bite,”’ Bilecki said.
Authorities called her father, who was still at the home, and he immediately plunged his hand into the fish bowl, grabbing one of two piranhas.
“He had no fear; these were truly fatherly instincts,” Bilecki said. “He grabbed a knife and cut it open and found her fingertip right there.”
The piece of her finger was taken to the hospital and doctors were trying to re-attach it, but Bilecki did not know if that operation was successful as of Friday afternoon.
The father “was so emotional about it they almost had to drive for him,” Bilecki said of the sheriff’s officers who helped out.
Bilecki said he did not know if the tank, which was close to where the girl was playing, was covered or how the child got access to it.
Bilecki said the mother and father are not facing any citations after the incident.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was called to make sure there were no “issues,” said Bilecki, who added that it was his understanding that there were none.
Sheriff’s police, also, did not show any calls at the home.
“We checked out logs to see if we had any other previous calls and there were none whatsoever,” Bilecki said.
“The parents are truly distraught and freaked out by the incident,” said Bilecki. “They appear to be good parents in an unfortunate situation.”
The girl is their only child and no other children live at the home, said Bilecki.