A First-Hand Account
Elise Arsenault | Reporter
Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with fourth-year student Craig De Boer and hear first-hand of the experience he had October third, when he and three other Redeemer students were targeted in an attack and attempted robbery near campus.
The story begins when he, Devan Visser, Joshua Elgeti, and Ben Corkery were walking east on Garner Road around three o’clock that morning, and Craig turned right to start walking down Kitty Murray Lane.
“I heard some tires stop behind me and some yelling,” he recounts. “The next thing I know, I’m on the other side of the road seeing Ben get knocked out. There are fifteen seconds in-between where I don’t know what happened. I don’t remember getting hit, and I don’t remember seeing people or a car.”
Joshua Elgeti was a witness of what happened during those fifteen seconds. He initially thought the yelling came from other Redeemer students saying hello, but soon realized he was wrong. “Once they turned around,” Craig explains, “they saw me on the ground. There were guys trying to take my backpack off, kicking and hitting me.” Immediately Joshua and Ben ran over to where they were.
“One guy pulled out a knife. Josh saw it and told Ben to get out, so they both started going back to the other side of the road. The guy with the knife ran towards Ben, punched him in the jaw and he blacked out.
“I remember calling Ben’s name to try to wake him up. I didn’t want to touch him in case he had a spinal or neck injury. I knew the reason he’d been knocked out was because he and Josh stepped in to help me, so I felt really bad for that. I was terrified when he wasn’t responding — you always think of the worst case scenario at times like that.” Meanwhile, Devan Visser ran to the fire department at that intersection and woke paramedics.
“They drove out the back and put Ben on a stretcher since he didn’t move a muscle for about 45 seconds to a minute; we were pretty freaked out. Josh was calm and used my phone to call 911.” Ben awoke on the way to the hospital and a medic asked him questions to assess his state.
“She asked him if he knew what day it was, but he couldn’t answer. So I said ‘Ben, we played Fanshawe today — what day did we play Fanshawe?’ and he’d remember. Then a few minutes later he’d forget again… That happened four or five times.” Once at the hospital, Ben and Craig’s injuries were attended to.
“I didn’t know I was hit until we got to the hospital. My thumb hurt, but otherwise I felt fine.” When a doctor noticed two goose eggs on either side of Craig’s head, they decided he’d better be checked out as well. They concluded that he’d been punched on one side, and the other had hit the sidewalk.
“I don’t know if I technically blacked out, or if it was shock and adrenaline. I’ve never been in a fight in my life. It was surreal. I was physically unable to remember.” This proved to be frustrating when trying to recall specifics for his statement to police.
“I remember seeing a fist, but not the person it belonged to. No one could really remember what went on — we didn’t even think about looking at the guys. We just wanted them to leave us alone.”
“It happened so fast,” Craig laughs, “that they didn’t even have time to steal anything. So that was nice.”
The fractured bone in Craig’s hand is likely to heal in four to six weeks, and his concussion testing requires only a few more days’ rest before he’s cleared to play soccer again. “I was pretty upset that the fracture could potentially end my season for outdoor soccer which, for me — soccer is life. Soccer is amazing.” His next doctor’s appointment is the day before the team’s last game on October 21st.
“Whether I play or not is completely up to that doctor… So that’s kinda stressful!”
Ben Corkery was diagnosed with a more serious concussion, and so was out of commission for over a week.
“He’s getting through it, he’s slowly recovering. We actually all live in the same house — so that’s awesome.” Craig admits to some psychological repercussions, too, as a result of the attack.
“When I cut through the forest to get to the school, all my senses are heightened — I’ll look back at the sound of a squirrel. I know it will wear off, but for now I don’t like being by myself as much.” At the end of our conversation, I ask if he’s heard any false rumours about the incident and, as it turns out, he has:
“One day, someone came up and asked me: ‘Are you the guy who got stabbed in the arm?’ And I was like, ‘No, man. Do you know someone who got stabbed in the arm?’ It was pretty funny.” He admits how odd it is to think of these kinds of occurrences happening in Ancaster.
“It’s the second richest neighbourhood in Canada! It’s not something you predict. You don’t think twice about walking alone, in the dark or just under the street lamps. These communities are mostly young people, young families and some retired people.
“If you went to a school downtown Hamilton, it might be in the back of your mind. You’d be a lot more careful and wouldn’t be out so late… You don’t expect something like this to happen on your own street corner, especially outside Redeemer.”
Mark this incident as additional reminder to be aware of your surroundings and intentional in your decision making. Pointers given by Security on street-safety include: planning safe means of getting home before heading out, keeping friends informed about your whereabouts, keeping your cellphone charged, being wary of alcohol consumption, and keeping to well-lit, busy streets when walking at night.
If you experience any incidents in which your safety was at risk, or would like an escort to your dorm at night, Security is on duty from 4pm-7am and can be reached at 905-961-4444.