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Dodger Stadium beating victim transferred to San Francisco

Bryan Stow is transferred to San Francisco General Hospital as family bids a bittersweet farewell to L.A. residents who offered sympathy and support.

May 17, 2011|By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times
  • Bryan Stow, with his neurosurgeon Dr. Gabriel Zada, left, and the hospital medical team, is moved to an ambulance for the trip to Burbank airport and a flight to San Francisco.
Bryan Stow, with his neurosurgeon Dr. Gabriel Zada, left, and the hospital… (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times )

For the Stow family, Los Angeles was the city where one of their own spent weeks in a coma after a brutally beating over a baseball rivalry.

But it was also the city whose people sent donations, lemon cakes and cards — sometimes more than 20 a day — and stopped family members in the hallways of the hospital to apologize on behalf of Angelenos and Dodger fans everywhere. It was the city where they lived for more than six weeks at the downtown Marriott hotel, 10 minutes from the hospital where their son and brother lay unconscious.

On Monday, the family's time in Los Angeles came to an end. Bryan Stow, the 42-year-old Santa Clara paramedic and San Francisco Giants fan, left Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for San Francisco General Hospital.

Stow suffered a fractured skull and brain damage when two men attacked him in the Dodger Stadium parking lot after the season's March 31 opening game between Dodgers and Giants. He was placed in a medically induced coma to prevent seizures. Although no longer comatose, he remains unconscious and in critical condition.

For the parents and two sisters who traveled home to meet him there, the homecoming was bittersweet.

"We were there so long, we got to feeling it was home," said Stow's father Dave, 67.

The move means that Stow will be closer to his home and family in Santa Cruz County. But for his parents and two sisters, who were by his side in Los Angeles, it also means leaving newfound friends, including medical staff and well-wishers who held fundraisers for him and inundated USC Medical Center with calls and letters.

"It was definitely bittersweet," said Stow's sister Bonnie, 32, who drove home Sunday with their mother, Ann, so they could meet Stow at the hospital Monday. "The ride home yesterday was pretty emotional."

At a news conference in Los Angeles on Sunday, Ann Stow had thanked the community, saying, "This truly is the city of angels."

Stow's family members said they have been amazed by the outpouring of support from Los Angeles residents since the attack, including many Dodgers fans who expressed shame over the beating. Stow's unidentified attackers apparently targeted him because of his Giants jersey.

Minutes before the attack, he had texted a relative to say he feared for his safety.

"A lot of the cards said they were ashamed to be Angelenos, and we just wanted to tell people, don't be. We don't blame you at all," Bonnie Stow said.

Every day when family members stopped by the hospital office, they found at least five and sometimes more than 20 cards. Some offered prayers and others shared stories of loved ones who had recovered from serious brain injuries.

"I've never seen anybody get quite as much mail as Bryan has," including previous high-profile patients, USC Medical Center spokeswoman Rosa Saca said.

So many people called the hospital seeking updates on Stow's condition that his family posted a blog asking well-wishers to give the nursing staff a break from the queries.

And then there were the people who approached the family in the hospital's hallways to offer a hug and a kind word. One woman even broke down in tears when she found out they were Stow's family, Dave Stow said.

Los Angeles Police Department officers escorted Stow and his medical team to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, where he was loaded onto a medical jet to San Francisco.

Stow was placed in a medically induced coma to prevent seizures. Within the last week, Saca said, Stow has begun to make movements, although he remains unconscious.

Saca said Stow opened his eyes Monday morning before leaving on his journey. It was not the first time, but she said his eyes remained open longer than nurses had seen in the past.

But it remains uncertain when, if ever, he will wake up.

"It's very difficult to say what his prognosis might be," Saca said. "We just know that his recovery is going to be very slow and very long."

abby.sewell@latimes.com

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