Woman trapped on car roof by dogs at Philly lot

October 6, 2010 (PHILADELPHIA)

ABC 7's Philadelphia affiliate, WPVI, was there as the woman was rescued just after 6 p.m. Tuesday at Front Street Auto Sales at 1742 North Front Street in the Fishtown section.

Sylvia McCall, 56, said she was at the lot looking to buy a car.

"I came to buy a car with cash," Sylvia said. "I told them I wanted a cheap car."

She went on to say a salesman led her to a few cars in her price range and invited her to look around.

A little while later she went to go find the salesman again. That's when she noticed the office was locked up.

Then she saw two large dogs coming toward her.

"I said, 'Oh My God!' And I looked up and I saw the gates were pulled down and locked, so I just started backing up and I tried to be calm, cause I have had a heart attack once before," Sylvia said.

With razor wire lining the fence all around, Sylvia knew she was trapped - so she jumped on the roof of a small car as the dogs ran after her.

"I was hitting them with my cane, and they wouldn't move," Sylvia said. "I was saying, 'Get back! Get back!'"

She screamed for help and called police. But, when they didn't show after 25 minutes, she called Action News and we too called for help.

"I thought I was going to die. I thought they were going to tear me to shreds. I thought they were going to tear me to pieces and I'm scared of dogs," said Sylvia.

Then, 17-year-old Tyerah Smith, a student at John Hallahan Catholic School, was passing by after leaving an after school program. She saw Sylvia in trouble and tried to distract the dogs away from her.

"Every time the dogs would try to go over back to her, I would whistle and call them back over to where I was," Tyerah said. "I mean, they kept barking at me and I was kind of scared!"

Finally, SEPTA transit officer Brian Schwenger arrived, who asked three passersby to distract the dogs as he gingerly climbed through a break in the fence to rescue Sylvia, while keeping an eye over his shoulder for the guard dogs.

Soon, Sylvia and Officer Schwenger were able to escape the lot. Sylvia was shaken but, otherwise, all right.

Still, she was taken to Episcopal Hospital for observation. She was in stable condition Wednesday morning.

The owner of the lot, Dennis Hempsey, said he was looking into how this happened, adding he was glad no one was hurt.

"This should not have happened. It's horrible. I'll have to find out how this happened," Hempsey said. "It's never happened before and we've been here for years."

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