I didn’t go to the Chargers vs. Raider game this year in San Diego. The pain is still there. I knew it would bring up a flood of emotions and I am not sure, even a year later that I am ready for it. Even writing this now, is a struggle. But I want people to be aware.
I went last year with a friend who used to play for the Chargers. He was involved in alumni and special appearance functions. I was busy picking up some tickets for some of his crew and trying to get to the stadium to deliver them.
It was December 5th, and the traffic into the stadium was horrid. I was just sitting on the freeway, stuck, with the guys calling wanting to know where their tickets were. Finally I decided to get off at the next exit park and walk in. I knew it would be faster than trying to park inside.
I followed a few other vehicle with the same idea and we parked in an empty office parking lot. I paid attention to my surroundings, making sure I could find my way back to the truck after the game. I got the tickets to the guys at the gate, got to my seat, and enjoyed the game. It was a wonderful win. The Charger fans were cordial, and I was careful not to get too out of hand with my celebrating or comments.
Everyone filed quickly from the stadium, but I was so proud of our team, I had to stand over the tunnel and make sure the last Raider player, coach and staff had left the field, and had been appropriately “hurrah’d.”
Cell phone reception was iffy inside the stadium, but after the game, my friend was able to get through to me and let me know his friends would take him back to the hotel where I was staying.
I headed out to where I had parked his truck, walking with other people from the game–a mix of both Raider and Charger fans. And I felt nothing threatening.
I was only a block or two from getting back to my friend’s truck and all the people I was walking with at that point headed in different directions. I turned down the when two guys in hoodies stepped out of a brushy area where the sidewalk narrowed. I was careful to move to the far right side and noticed that they just had generic clothing on. They weren’t Charger fans. And they weren’t Raider fans.
Just as we were closely passing on the sidewalk the first blow came. Directly to my eye and blow after blow from the both of them continued to pummel my face and head. They pounded me.
Susan Manuel 3 days after being brutally attacked
I could hear men run up and chase them, and what felt like a large woman grabbed me and comforted me.
It was at that point I realized my vision was gone. I could not see and at best any vision I could get was a blurred, triple vision.
They took my trademark fedora, they took a bracelet I was wearing, and they took my “2010 Season Ticket Holder” mini Raider backpack.
The backpack contained chap stick, gloves, an old digital camera, and sunglasses.Luckily my cell phone was zipped in my left Raider jacket pocket, and the keys to the truck were zipped in the right pocket. My cash and ID were zipped in a small secluded pocket.
They never said anything to me. Never asked for money. Never called me names. But it was clear, they meant to take my vision in the first blow.
The police asked me what they had on their hand when they hit me. I never saw the punch coming as they were too close and passing me at the same time.
The doctors asked the same thing. What weapon did they have? The damage to my eye was deep and extensive. I was sent to XRay, as they were sure my orbital and facial bones were fractured. I also had a concussion. Because they were not able to knock me down, the damage was contained to my head and face.
I was out of work for a month until I was able to regain some of my vision. There were of course repeated doctor visits to various specialists. But what was worse was hearing from other people…
Why didn’t you fall down and play dead? (Uh, because they would have kicked my ribs in and killed me). Why didn’t you have pepper spray? (Uh, because even if I had it–there would have not been enough time to get it out and use it). And yes, even one “helpful” person said you should have been carrying a gun. (And you really think I would have gotten into the game packing a gun, and again, there would have been not time to get it out and use it). And, then there was a person who said God must have been mad at me to allow this to happen to me.
A year later, I still have vision problems when I look up, down or to the side. it has taken time for me not to panic when I am alone, or when I am in a crowd.
And what did I learn?
-On game days, stay buddied up–no matter what.
-Do not carry anything of value in a bag or purse.
-Keep anything of value on your body. -Park in a controlled stadium parking lot.
-Even go to the bathroom or to concession stands in pairs. -Be constantly aware of appearances. (I was more focused on what the assailants were wearing than what their face looked like).
-Realize it doesn’t have to be a fan of the opposing team who assaults you. It can be anyone.
(The police determined they guys were not affiliated with either team, and were probably not even at the game).