Raccoon attacks boy walking to school in New Jersey

Monali Gavali and son Aryan speak to CBS New York station WCBS-TV in a video chat broadcast Jan. 28, 2016.

WCBS-TV

ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. -- A New Jersey boy was expected to be released from the hospital Thursday after being attacked by a raccoon as he walked to school, CBS New York station WCBS-TV reports.

Six-year-old Aryan Gavali's face was swollen after surgery, leaving him with nine stitches after a raccoon attacked him and wouldn't let go.

"I initially thought it's a monkey, but later on I noticed it was something else," his mother, Monali Gavali, said.

Police said the animal took a hold of Aryan just before 9 a.m. Wednesday as he and his mom were walking to school in Elmwood Park.

They said the raccoon crossed the street and pounced on Aryan's back, quickly heading right for the only place he had exposed skin.

"It's cold outside, and he was covered with a jacket," his mother said. "Only his face was open."

Danny Walls was sitting in his car and saw the struggle. He jumped out, grabbed a pole used for painting and began taking swings at the raccoon.

"The raccoon is clawing on the kid's face, biting the kid's face," he said. "I killed the raccoon. The kid jumped up. He was screaming. He was crying. There was blood all over the place."

Gavali is grateful for Walls' quick action, a move she said spared Aryan from injuries that would have been far worse.

"I'm really, really thankful," she said. "He came like an angel to help us."

The raccoon was taken to a lab to be tested for rabies. Results were expected back on Friday.

Wildlife experts want everyone to be on the lookout for raccoon rabies warning sings. Nocturnal animals should not be active in the daylight, and people should beware if a raccoon is aggressive, disoriented and is foaming at the mouth.