WARNING: This story contains details that may be disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised.
A young woman who was stabbed at least five times by a knife-wielding stranger on the streets of Nelson, B.C., is recovering in hospital in Kelowna.
It’s welcome news to the Good Samaritans who jumped in and stopped the suspect, saving the 29-year-old victim’s life in the process.
According to a GoFundMe page created to support the victim’s recovery and verified by Global News, the victim — only identified by her first name Ramita — underwent successful hand surgery on Sept. 23.
She also had a thoracotomy tube removed later in the week as her lungs healed.
The woman’s partner declined an interview, but in an update posted on the GoFundMe page Friday, Michael MacFadden described their eternal gratitude to the “brave people who stepped in to diffuse the attack.”
“Ramita is here today because of their courage to act in the time of need,” wrote MacFadden. “We are so fortunate for these people being in the right place at the right time.”
The random attack unfolded at the corner of Stanley and Baker Streets shortly before 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 19.
“It was one of the most traumatic experiences I’ve ever witnessed,” Niomi Starspires recalled.
The local artist and massage therapist was returning to Nelson to pick up a forgotten item when she saw what she thought was a woman punching someone.
When she got closer, she realized the assailant was armed.
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“She had a knife, looked like about a six-inch blade and was stabbing the other woman,” said Starspires.
Around the same time, Adrian Moyls was stopped at a red light when he heard a commotion at the corner, including yells and high-pitched screams.
The Selkirk College student pulled over as soon as he could and ran to the scene, where bystanders — including a man who was stabbed in the leg as he intervened — had managed to stop the female suspect.
“She was just sitting or laying underneath a big gentleman who was wearing like a motorbike helmet. He had just pinned her down.”
Moyls and Starspires’ focus quickly turned to the victim.
“I saw her laying on the ground on her back with blood everywhere, and a gentleman was holding her neck to stop her from bleeding out,” Moyls recalled.
Moyls put pressure on some of the woman’s other wounds in an effort to stop the bleeding.
“There was another gentleman with his hand on her back,” he said. “There was a really bad slice, stab in her back.”
“I saw her eyes sort of drifting in and out of her body,” added Starspires.
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Starspires says she held the victim’s head, maintained eye contact with her, and in a calm and soothing voice told her to “stay with me” as she watched Ramita’s eyes “drifting in and out of her body.”
“I just kept reminding her ‘help is here’ and’ just breathe, long and deep, everything’s gonna be OK.'”
Ramita was rushed to hospital with significant stab wounds to her torso and arm.
The suspect was arrested and transported to Kootenay Lake Hospital to be treated for what police describe as “minor self-inflicted injuries.”
Charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon have since been laid against 49-year old Fiona Jane Coyle.
The suspect had only been in Nelson for a couple of days before the alleged incident, and police say there doesn’t appear to be any relationship between the accused and the alleged victim.
“At this point it looks like a random, unprovoked attack,” said Sgt. Nate Holt with the Nelson Police Department.
“This one incident doesn’t define what this community’s about and we still believe this is a safe community.”
Investigators are probing whether mental health issues may have played a role.
Coyle was remanded in custody at a hearing before a Justice of the Peace on Sept. 20, and is scheduled to appear in court in Nelson on Oct. 8 for a bail hearing.
Nelson resident Trisha Elliott was so touched after witnessing the community effort to assist the victim, she decided to organize a potluck dinner and silent auction fundraiser at Cottonwood Lake Regional Park.
Half of the proceeds from the Oct. 5 event will go to Ramita’s recovery and the other half will be split among the Good Samaritans.
“It was just really heartening to see how many people literally put their lives on the line,” said Elliott. “They saved a life.”
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Moyls says he’s still shaken by the incident.
“She had been attacked out of nowhere,” he said. “To see that and to see how bad her slices and her stab wounds were, it was gory it was definitely quite horrific.”
According to MacFadden’s post on the GoFundMe page, Ramita will be returning to the Kootenays soon to begin the next phases of her healing.
Once she’s ready, the couple hopes to eventually meet the Good Samaritans in person.
“I’m just so grateful that she’s alive and healing,” said Starspires.