WATCH ABOVE: A staff member who was severely beaten at a youth group home east of Edmonton is speaking out. As Kendra Slugoski explains, every bone in Heather Vanderzee’s face was broken, she was stabbed in the cheek and she said there was an attempt to cut her throat.
WARNING: This article contains graphic content that may be disturbing to some.
A staff member who was severely beaten at the Elk Island Youth Ranch last month is trying to recover from the traumatic attack.
Every bone in Heather Vanderzee’s face was broken, she was stabbed in the cheek and she said there was an attempt to cut her throat.
“Her neck was really bruised,” her partner Larry Achtemichuk said. “After she passed out is when the rest of it occurred.
“They tried to slit her throat. They stabbed her in the cheek here and that went right through the roof of her mouth.
“The nerve to the lip on the right side has been severed.”
Two teenagers have been charged with attempted murder in the case.
The focus for Vanderzee now is on her recovery.
“All of this was broken,” Achtemichuk said, tracing the entire outline of his face. “There was no sinus cavity, the nose was broken, the jaw was smashed.”
She’s had three surgeries already and has more procedures ahead. Vanderzee can walk without the use of a walker, but her wounds will take a long time to heal completely, if they do at all.
Achtemichuk said the last surgery lasted nearly seven hours.
“When I was in hospital, the first few days, I really don’t remember anything,” the 60-year-old said. “Then, as it started coming back… Larry was with me there everyday.”
She doesn’t remember the details of the attack, but worries it may start coming back to her.
“If the flashbacks come back, it could be bad.”
Vanderzee will meet with a psychologist this week.
She was working alone at the Elk Island Youth Ranch when she was attacked on Feburary 5. Her injuries were so severe she was airlifted by STARS to an Edmonton hospital.
Vanderzee’s family was in court last week when the 14- and 15-year-old charged in the case made a brief appearance. Neither can be named because they are minors.
One appeared in person, the other by CCTV. Both cases were adjourned to April 12.
Her partner wants to sit down with the premier and justice minister to demand changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. They want to see tougher penalties for youth crime.