*Note* Because of the amount of trauma that I suffered that night I have had to rely on other people’s accounts in order the piece together all the details. Here is a link to a blog that Deanna wrote after the events of July 11.
July 11th, 2013. A night for me that I hate to think about. It has caused so much discord and sadness for our family. It has created this strange cloud around us. People don’t understand what it’s like to live every day with the damage that was caused by people you’ve never met and ultimately would never be held accountable for their actions.
Monkey, and I had moved into the community, as our first solo home, since he was born, and I became a single mom. It was a magical place for us filled with amazing memories and when Nate moved in with us, it was a milestone moment for our dynamic duo. We loved our little close knit location with great access to running trails, local eateries and of course walking distance to the kiddos school.
That night our little piece of heaven turned into a dark corner of the universe, I dreaded going to.
This was also three days before Monkey’s 7th Birthday.
It was roughly after 6pm when I made my way to the gym. Just up the road, and not that far. I was going to do a longer workout, but something nagged at me as I finished my run. I hopped off the treadmill and made my way to my car, and that’s when my phone rang. It was Nate. He hung up on me and I was concerned. As I drove, I called him on repeat. Then he called again, his words were inaudible.
“They got me”
“I think I’m dying”
At first, it sounded like he had been drinking, completely unaware of what was happening, but the roughly 40 minutes I was at the gym was not nearly enough time for him to have grown as intoxicated as he sounded.
I raced the last few giant blocks home to find L.A. Sheriff’s Deputies arriving as well. Trying to figure out which unit was involved. Grabbing teenage boys as they ran. It was chaos. My only focus was to get to our place and see what was going on. As I ran up to the house and opened the door, there was blood everywhere. On the walkway, on the walls, on the door, blood was splattered everywhere, it was like a scene from an Unsolved Mysteries report on television. Except there was no narrator, only the voice in my head praying that Nate was ok.
When I entered the house, he was sitting on the stairs. Slumped over. Leaning against the wall. His face covered in blood. A Deputy assessed him quickly, and called for the paramedics. Nate in a fog insisted he was ok, and began to spit blood onto the floor. I insisted the EMT check him out and as he took his vitals he said to me something like “His face is swelling so quickly, we need to make sure there’s no chance of brain damage from a bleed or trauma. He needs to be transported.” I had never had to make choices like this for anyone but myself and Monkey before. And, when you’re used to someone being your rock, it’s the most bizarre feeling to have to now be there eyes and ears.
Meanwhile, Nate insisted all he needed was a shower, but when he went to stand it took two Deputies and the EMT to hold him up. He could not stand. He could not see. In his confused and what we later found out was a severe concussed state, he did not know what to do and began to cry. He begged me to just tell him what to do. Nate was not in a state to know what to do and it was very much like caring for a sick child. All he needed was reassurance he was going to be ok.
As he let the EMT team do their thing, I went to deal with the issues of the culprits. 5-7 teens. Later we would find out that two of them were adults. Not being allowed to leave and yet, I was being told my Deputies things that would never happen. These kids who had terrorized our neighborhood since their friend had moved in with his Mom next door would sit on the curb and sneer at me. Laughing and taunting the Deputies. I had hoped their lease would end and they would move. Now this was happening.
There was so much noise. Kids shouting to be let go. Neighbors milling about. People asking me if Nate was ok. Then, out of nowhere, a Deputy realized one of the kids had wandered away, no cuffs on and was photographing Nate being wheeled into the ambulance. You can see his Tweet in Nate first posts.
When he was escorted to the Deputies vehicle the kid began yelling, “Do you know who my Dad is? You f*&^ers better call him or your going to get your ass handed to you.”
It was with those words that the entire night changed. Deputies went from attentive to me and my plight to chatting with the two boys, who we later found out were brothers and whose father was a longtime LAPD Motorcycle Cop.
It was like one of those scenes from a movie. The world slowly spinning, and nothing made sense. And yet, I was still told the following…
- They will be detained and questioned at the station
- We will send someone to meet you at the ER
- There will be a full investigation into what happened
- Don’t worry this will be handled, just take care of him
While I waited for the ambulance to leave, the parents of these kids started to show up. And still I was being reassured it was being handled. My neighbor told me she’d stick around and keep me posted. But, as I got in my car, I saw handcuffs being undone. Kids walking away with their parents. I walked back to the Deputy, and he told me not to worry.
What was said to me next, shook me…
Something to the effect of… “They are minors, we will follow up with them separately. Sounds like it was just a fight that got out of hand.”
I stared at the Deputy in shock, and asked if he was serious? He assured me they would have someone come to the hospital to follow-up and take a statement to ensure both sides of the story were heard. I was nervous about them being released. These people knew where I lived, they knew what kind of car I drove, and we had a child in the home. What if they came back.
The Deputy looked me straight in the eye and assured me they would not get away with this, fight or not, they would not get away with what they did. I left, with apprehension in my heart, but Nate needed me.
When I arrived at the hospital there was audible yelling. I could hear my name. Nate was searching for me. He was confused and upset and terrified. After explaining to the Security Guard that while I might not be family, I was the only thing that was going to get the yelling to stop.
Once back in the ER with Nate he was triaged and taken to one of those holding areas. Surrounded by littles who had been brought to the ER to be snuggled by family, and treated by the ER staff. I told the EMT in training that was assigned to us that was not a great idea, he needed his own space and only because of how out of it he was. And as the words came out of my mouth, Nate began to vomit the blood he had been swallowing for roughly three hours. It was like a scene out of a horror movie. Those poor little kids in the ER got quite the show, and were likely traumatized by our prequel to the Walking Dead.
Upon getting a room in the ER, I asked the ER nurse if anyone from the Sheriff’s department had come yet, and she reassured me they would let me know. The Henry Mayo staff was attentive and quick to respond. The doctor who arrived took me aside and asked me if I was familiar with head trauma issues, and having had my own Mami survive, a brain tumor and lose my Tio to a brain bleed. The unfortunate answer was “Yes, I am aware”. He went on to explain to me that the night was critical, if there was significant swelling, he may experience setbacks physically. They would order a series of scans and tests to ensure he was ok but he wanted to prepare me for the worst.
A friend dropped by to sit with us and that lifted so much weight off my shoulders.
I started texting family to let them know. Nate’s brother and family in San Diego and everywhere I could think.
10:30PM at night and still no one from the Sheriff’s department. My neighbor texted me that everyone had gone and no one had been arrested. I called the Sheriff’s department and they asked me to leave my name and phone and someone would call me back asap.
With a friend at Nate’s side, I ran home quickly to shower, get clothes and with our friend steadfastly keeping Nate awake, it was the only opportunity I had. Home seemed horrible now. I was terrified to be there. My heart raced. Blood everywhere. I sat in the shower and cried. Balled my eyes out. And, jumped at every sound that came from outside and next door. Where they home? Did they get to come back? They had violated our sacred space. I would not return to our home without someone with me for the entire almost five days Nate was in the hospital.
Back at the ER armed with Nate’s cell phone I continued to contact people. Update people. Be the point person.
At around midnight, they took Nate for his first of a few scans he would get for the head trauma. Wildly concussed he was mumbling things to me. Asking me questions about work things that had happened weeks before. He was a mess. I had never seen him so completely unaware of what was happening. In the middle of the hallway, waiting for his CATScan he began to run on and on about how lucky he was to have me. It was hard to hear him slur and stumble over every word, and yet sweet to hear him say things that gave me hope, and in that cold brightly lit hallway eventually propose marriage. I honestly, knew in my mind that head trauma can bring people to say things they don’t mean, don’t see and have no idea about, and didn’t really take him seriously.
The scans showed the swelling was bad, not horrible, and we would be in good shape if he made it through the night. They gave him something for the pain, swelling and eventually to sleep when he was checked into a room.
2AM and still no one from the Sheriff’s department and no return phone call.
I went to stay at my parents house. I was not going to be in that community without protection. That next day, at the hospital got even more confusing. Nurses explaining that surgery was going to be scheduled for his seven facial fractures now that the swelling had gone down. Doctors saying he would likely be released after the swelling had gone down more. While the staff was kind and did what they could, they could not get on the same page about anything.
While I posted up at the hospital my parents and sister sprang into action to help me plan a very last minute birthday party for the Monkey. Plans to go to Disneyland had to be cancelled. I cried when cancelling the hotel reservation because I had to explain all over again what had happened. Luckily, the summer isn’t a hot time for birthday parties, so we threw together a family party with my Tios and Tias at Mountasia for mini golf, video games and go karting. I magically assembled a Doctor Who cake for the kiddo by buying a nightlight at Hot Topic and taking it apart. The Tardis melted partially, and I held back tears.
Heading back to the hospital after the party, I broke down in the CVS parking lot. This was Sunday, and we had still not heard from the Sheriff’s Department. The hospital had run Nate’s insurance from his employer, and it had been cancelled. It seemed like we could not catch a break.
The hospital staff went from insisting he have surgery before he leaves to saying, he would be discharged and referred to a specialist. My heart hurt so much. When I pushed the nurse on why the change, she explained he was downgraded from serious condition and that meant he could go home the following day without the surgery. I spoke with a doctor and he apologized for the confusion. I cried more. We went home with no surgery, and no deputy visit for a statement.
I will never forget those days. They are seared into my brain forever. To this day, I cry thinking about how my guy was treated and how it took phone calls from my Dad and friends in the community to get a Deputy to show up at our house. I will always teach my son to respect those who wear the badge, but that several days, had me losing faith in what gets done and for who.
The last six years have been a journey. Nate gave me his grandma’s ring a few weeks later. We moved and to this day, no one has been charged.