A woman who was stabbed 21 times by a knife-wielding stranger in Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood last month is expected to make a full recovery, but it’s going to be slow.
The woman, whose name is being withheld for her safety, told the American-Statesman that, after the attack, her right lung collapsed and she lost a dangerous amount of blood. The tendons to the fingers on her right hand were severed, so she’s going through physical therapy to regain the use of her dominant hand. With two major muscles also severed in her left arm, both her hands are out of commission.
She described her injuries calmly and in straightforward medical terms because, as a St. David’s Medical Center nurse, she’s familiar with these kinds of wounds. But she also understands how close to death she came.
On that Saturday morning of Nov. 14, just after 7:15 a.m., the woman and a friend were relaxing outside on a blanket at 44th Street and Speedway, when her friend went back to his apartment to use the bathroom, she said. She took a moment to relax and close her eyes, when someone suddenly attacked her with a knife.
When the woman opened her eyes, she saw her attacker was a woman with dark wavy or curly hair, who smiled as she stabbed. The victim escaped the attacker, who also ran away. The attacker seemed to know the area, based on the route she took when she ran off, the woman said.
When first responders arrived at the scene, the woman’s wounds were initially reported as potentially life-threatening, Austin police Detective Robert Holsonback said.
“They thought I was going to die,” said the victim, who spent six days in the hospital.
Her doctors told her she won’t be able to work for about three months. She’s living with her parents, who have to help feed and bathe her, while she works to regain the use of her hands and arms.
The attacker is still out there, and detectives don’t have a suspect, Holsonback said. The attacker would likely be charged with aggravated assault, he said.
The victim said she wishes she could recall more details about the attacker, but “my memory just fails me because it was such a traumatic moment.”
Investigators are asking anyone with information about this case to call Austin police at 512-974-6610.
While stranger-on-stranger violent crime does occur in Austin, this type of violence is rare, said Holsonback, who has been investigating these types of crimes in Austin for about 12 years.
A situation “where the victim and the suspect have absolutely zero interaction with each other, and the suspect is not motivated by some other drive, like robbery or anything else, that type of crime is very rare in this area,” he said.
The area where the woman was attacked is a residential area just two blocks from a neighborhood pool.
“I’ve seen so many children trick or treating in this area,” the woman said. “I just want to make sure the neighborhood is safe again.”