Chicago assault victim recovers speech

The parents of a University College Dublin student who suffered severe head injuries following an assault by a mugger wielding a baseball bat have said their daughter is walking and talking again.

Speaking from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Liam and Sheila McShane said Natasha “is walking with assistance, has started to use her arms for functional tasks and has begun to talk.”

Meanwhile, almost $250,000 was raised by the people of Chicago last Sunday, which was declared Natasha’s Day, to go towards her medical bills.

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The family, who have been holding a bedside vigil since their daughter was attacked on April 23 expressed “profound gratitude” to those who worked “tirelessly” to raise money for Natasha’s care.

One of the fundraisers, Danielle Maihofer, said she was overwhelmed by the generosity of people on the day.

Maihofer, who has shared a house with Natasha in Chicago since January, added: “She is a fighter…I know she will pull through and be exactly the same and maybe even stronger when she is fully recovered.”

The 23-year-old postgraduate student from Silverbridge in South Armagh was celebrating with a friend, Stacey Jurich, when they were attacked. McShane had secured an internship, which meant she could prolong her stay in the U.S. city where she had been studying for the semester.

The two girls were returning home from a night out in a Bucktown bar when a robber struck Jurich in the back of the head, causing her to stumble to the ground. He then struck McShane in the head two or three times before hitting Jurich again as she got up.

Her parents said a tracheotomy which was previously installed to assist her with her breathing has been removed and “she is now breathing completely on her own.”

“We are mindful that the road ahead of her will be long and hard. Nevertheless, we are extremely hopeful that we will eventually get our beautiful daughter back to a place where she will be able to lead a full, meaningful and independent life,” they said in a statement through the rehabilitation center.