Girl’s attack stuns doctors

By SHARON SALYER

Herald Writer

EVERETT — Even to members of a veteran hospital trauma team who battle to save the lives of 400 seriously injured people each year, this case was different.

That a 14-year-old Cascade High School freshman could be viciously stabbed and choked as she walked on a paved trail in south Everett early Monday was almost more than they could comprehend.

"That this sort of thing could happen in our community was very scary," said Becky Martin, trauma nurse coordinator at Providence Everett Medical Center.

"The trauma team, the operating room crew, medical staff, everybody was quite upset.

"Anytime you see someone suffering from an intentional injury that is so senseless, it’s very, very upsetting," she added. "I wonder, ‘Who would have done something like that?’ "

More than four hours of intensive surgery were required to repair severe wounds to her neck and abdomen.

A nurse on the operating room team momentarily left to update the patient’s mother, adding this earnest message, "We’re all praying for your daughter."

"She had lethal injuries, essentially," said Dr. Tony Roon, medical director of trauma services. "At most places she would not have made it."

Dr. Jay Cook, one of two surgeons who performed the surgery, described the atmosphere of the six to eight people who flowed in and out of the operating room as "tense, but very functional."

"She had horrific injuries," he said.

Her surgery was complicated by the severity of the injury to a major blood vessel in her abdomen, and that it was in a very difficult position.

Heavy cloud cover prevented the student from being airlifted from where she was attacked on the Interurban Trail about 6:20 a.m. to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center for treatment.

Dr. William Gallagher, a second surgeon who worked on the case, said he was paged at home and arrived at about 7:25 a.m.

"It was a good time in terms of logistics to be able to provide care for the patient very expeditiously," he said.

"The planned surgeries for the day haven’t started. You have lots of personnel and operating rooms are available. Some other times of the day you don’t necessarily have that capacity," Gallagher said.

After a brief post-operative recovery, the girl was flown to Harborview where she is being treated in the critical care unit and is in serious condition.

"We have drilled throughout this last year intensively with emergency room physicians, nurses and critical care nurses on how to treat trauma patients," Martin said.

Roon, like other hospital staffers, is updated on her condition.

"Assuming that her health continues to do well, she should make a full recovery," he said.

Yet medical staff, like the community at-large, remains stunned by the attack.

"I think just the fact that she’s this young woman who is on her way to a friend’s house to go to school and was viciously attacked, it’s sobering that this can happen in your community," Cook said.

"It’s tragic to think this young woman will never be the same," he added. "She may recover from her physical injuries, but this will affect her for the rest of her life."

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