Best friend in bedside vigil as mugging victim remains critical
THE best friend of Irish student Natasha McShane wept at her Chicago bedside last night, willing the critically ill victim of muggers back to consciousness.
But despite the efforts of Stacy Jurich, who was also attacked by muggers, the 23-year-old student from Silverbridge, Co Armagh, remained in critical condition in the intensive care unit of a US hospital last night following a vicious mugging.
Ms Jurich (24) was also left seriously injured following the assault with a baseball bat last Friday morning.
Yet despite her own serious injuries, she went over to her friend's bedside at the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Centre and said: "Come back. I need you to dance with me. I love you and I'm sorry and I'll do everything I can for you," her mother Wendy Gay Van Etten told reporters.
Even before she was able to get out of bed, the young American woman also gave police vital information -- including the numbers of credit cards that were stolen from their handbags -- which led to the arrests on Tuesday of a couple in connection with the brutal robbery.
"I think the real hero is my daughter," Mrs Van Etten said. "And she wasn't doing it just for herself. She was doing it for Natasha. She was the only voice anyone could hear to get evidence."
Speaking to the Irish Independent from the hospital last night, Ms Jurich's father Rick said his step-daughter was still in serious condition.
"Her left eye isn't very good," he said of the head injuries she suffered when the girls were struck from behind with a bat. "She's doing a lot of stuttering," he said.
However, the results of two brain scans conducted just hours after the 3.30am attack on Friday revealed that his step-daughter was not expected to have lasting neurological damage, although she was still partially paralysed on her left side.
But the prognosis for Ms McShane remains unknown after she was transferred from the same hospital to the specialist-care Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago late on Tuesday.
It is understood that she is in an induced coma, having suffered a skull fracture and swelling of the brain.
A hospital spokeswoman last night said Ms McShane remained in critical condition.
Meanwhile, the longstanding criminal and gang member who has been charged with aggravated battery and armed robbery in connection with the attack was denied bail at a court hearing yesterday.
Heriberto Viramontes (31), of Chicago, was refused bail by Judge Adam Bourgeois who said the accused. a member of the outlaw Spanish Cobras gang, posed too great a danger to be released.
"I don't think there's any condition or set of conditions (for bail) that I can impose that can protect the community from this individual," the 'Sun-Times' quoted him as saying yesterday. According to court records, he has been arrested more than 30 times and has convictions for burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle and domestic battery.
His girlfriend and co-accused, Marcy Cruz, who is also charged with the same offences, is still awaiting a first court appearance. Police revealed that the pair were arrested after Ms Cruz allegedly bought petrol at a nearby station with one of the girl's credit cards and was captured on CCTV camera.
Some of the victims' other possessions were also found in a garbage bin near their home, while police also recovered what is believed to be the bat used in the robbery.