FOREST GROVE, Ore. - When an Oregon teen in a wheelchair was faced with a “massive” venomous spider and no one was home to come to her rescue, she felt she had no choice but to call the cops.
Makenna Sewell, 17, of Forest Grove, Ore., was going to get a glass of water when she spotted a large spider on the back of the living room couch, according to her mother, Shawnda Sewell. She then froze and stared at it for several minutes.
“We do live outside of town so we do see spiders all the time,” Sewell said. “[But] it was in fact the largest spider I had ever seen alive.”
Makenna has muscular dystrophy and is wheelchair-bound. On Aug. 16, Shawnda Sewell said her daughter was home alone when she saw what is believed to be a brown recluse spider, which has a venomous bite. The creature was about three inches across, she said.
Makenna “is very independent and very articulate,” Sewell said. “Her disability doesn’t stand in her way at all, except physically.”
Just a few days prior, Shawnda Sewell herself had been bitten by a spider on the back of her leg during the night, which resulted in a nasty wound and a trip to the emergency room. Since Makenna has a compromised immune system, Sewell said, a bite from a brown recluse could have been deadly.
Makenna “knew if she hit the spider at all, it would fall to the ground,” she said. “She knew if it got loose in the house there would be no way she would be able to sleep.”
After calling, but being unable to reach, her mother, her father, the friends her parents were with, her own friends and two neighbors, Makenna decided to call the non-emergency police hotline as a last resort.
“I just have a kind of ridiculous question,” the high school senior is heard telling the police dispatcher in an audio recording of the call. “I’m home alone and there is a giant spider on the back of my couch — I am talking giant. I have never seen a spider this big. And I have no idea what to do.”
“I can’t get a hold of my parents so I don’t know if you guys have anything I can do, or if I should just sit and stare at it and wait for someone to come home and kill it,” Makenna continues. “It’s probably as big as my hand.”
The dispatcher is heard telling her that since she doesn’t feel safe, he will send someone over to her house. In the end, a total of four police officers showed up at their house, Shawnda Sewell said.
“It’s comical,” she said. “I’m sure they just cracked up when they heard it over their radios.”
But even the police officers were surprised by the creature’s size, Sewell said.
“The officer shines a light on the spider and he actually jumps back,” she said. “So then they decided how they were going to do it, whether they were going to hit it with a baton. ”
“They wanted to make sure that once it falls they could get it,” she continued. “So they surrounded it and knocked it down.”
Throughout the situation, Sewell said the officers remained professional, despite the seemingly absurd circumstances.
“They were great about it. They were like, ‘No problem,’” she said. “They never made [Makenna] feel foolish, and I appreciated that.”
Since the story was first reported by local media, it has drawn wide attention, much to the family’s surprise. But now that they can look back on it with a good laugh, Sewell said Makenna, who has gotten lots of messages from friends and classmates, plans continue to make light of the “spider incident.”
As student body president, Makenna has to speak at an upcoming back-to-school assembly, and plans to “go out with a [fake] spider on her back,” her mother said.