La. Toddler Dies from Animal Attack After Wandering Away from Home: ‘Tragic Event’

A toddler was killed Monday morning in an alleged animal attack after he wandered away from his home in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, according to local news outlet KTBS-3.

According to the new station, the Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that 17-month-old Da’Angelo Manning was found dead about a half-mile from his residence on Winkler Road near the town of Haynesville.

The boy and the four-year-old were reported missing on Monday morning around 10am local time after wandering off the property.

Arriving within 15 minutes of being reported missing, police found the four-year-old around 10:30 a.m. They were released into the care of guardians after being treated by Pafford EMS for minor scratches, according to KTBS-3.

It is not clear what the relationship between the four-year-old and Manning is.

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Manning’s body was found around noon in an area north of Kendrick Springs Road “where a tree had recently been cut down,” according to The Independent.

The publication also reported that police said Manning’s cause of death was “the result of an animal attack.”

The species of the animal was not announced in the press release because the investigation is ongoing, according to KTBS-3 i The Independent. Local news outlet KSLA-12 reported that the Claiborne Parish Coroner has sent Manning’s body for an autopsy.

According to KSLA-12, Claiborne Parish Sheriff Sam Dowies issued the following statement in a press release: “Sheriff Dowies wanted to publicly thank the Louisiana State Police, David Wade Correctional Center, Claiborne Parish Volunteer Fire Department, Pafford EMS and other concerned citizens who everyone responded quickly to assist in this tragic event.”

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The Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Evelyn Ayala, whose cousin is Manning’s mother, created a GoFundMe page to help cover the toddler’s funeral expenses.

Noting that “my family is going through a difficult time right now,” Ayala explained on the page that “Da’Angelo Zacc Manning “Snoopy” (only one year and seven months old) son of my cousin Angelica Márquez was involved in a fatal accident in which he lost his life. ”

The GoFundMe page had raised more than $2,000 of its $10,000 goal as of Wednesday night.

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On Tuesday, Márquez shared several photos and videos of her son on Facebook in a heartbreaking tribute to her son.

“I found out I’m pregnant [with] you on my birthday. It was a big surprise for me, but I was so happy to have you,” Márquez wrote. “Your brothers still loved you very much. You were my baby. You were always smiling [would] make people smile, you were amazing. Believe me, you were my nose, my best friend.”

She continued, “I remember the day me and your dad chose your name while you were in my belly. I remember you helping me get through so much [of] hard times. You don’t know how sorry I am that I wasn’t there. You don’t know how hard it is. I’m trying to stay calm for your brothers sake.”

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“I hate it so much… that I didn’t hug you, kiss you and say I love you for the last time because I love you son. I’m so hurt and so angry,” she concluded her message. “I just don’t know how to survive this baby. I’m sorry.”

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