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'Miracle' recovery for Maple Ridge man injured in assault

It was meant to be a celebration, a night out at Shooter’s Pub with his son, who had just turned 19.

Ever the doting father, Cordell Dame had spent months training Jordan, who was trying out for the Langley Rams football team. It would be a few weeks before Jordan would find out if he made the cut for training camp.

They were buddies. It was Jordan’s first time in a pub.

But at 2 a.m. on May 1, Cordell, his best friend, Jordan and another friend left the Dewdney Trunk Road pub to head home. They were waiting for a cab in the parking lot of a Husky gas station when Jordan ran to check if the strip club next door was still open – he just wanted to have a peek.

By the time he got back, a few minutes later, his dad was on the ground, convulsing  in the parking lot.

Police believe the 51-year-old was knocked unconscious in a “one-on-one fight.”

Trevor Harding, a resident of Tipperary, Ireland, faces one count of aggravated assault in connection with the beating.

The 34-year-old has been released from custody on $2,000 bail, but his passport has been seized.

Cordell was rushed to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, unconscious with serious head injuries.

He remained in a coma for more than a month.

Doctors told his family he would not recover.

One of 10 siblings, Cordell was a big, strong man – 5-10 and 255 pounds. His brother Leo rushed to B.C. from Winnipeg the morning after he found out Cordell was in a coma.

His sister Anita followed three weeks later, as the family contemplated taking Cordell off life support. His brain was swollen from the beating and he lay in a hospital bed in a tangle of tubes.

“They didn’t expect him to survive,” says Anita.

But two days after she arrived, Cordell opened his eyes. He began following his sister Trudy around the room. Trudy had spent the past month at his side, everyday at breakfast. His sister Angie came by at lunch, and at supper his wife Tina would take over.

“He is quite the miracle,” says Anita.

“There is no other way to explain his progress, even though he has a long way ahead of him.”

Within days of opening his eyes, Cordell was talking and began eating solid food. By the end of June, he was well enough to celebrate his 51st birthday. The entire family gathered around him to watch him blow out the candles on an ice-cream cake. He now tries to feed himself.

Paralysed on his entire left side, Cordell still isn’t the brother Anita remembers.

Cordell ran his own business – Clean-Pro Janitorial – the family’s only source of income.

Now his sisters, brother and 22-year-old daughter are pitching in to keep the company afloat.

“It is pretty devastating,” she says.

“When you think about it, he will never be the same guy again.”

On Tuesday, Cordell had surgery to replace the bone flap in his skull that was removed when his brain was swollen. Once he recuperates, doctors hope to move him to Ridge Meadows Hospital, but he most likely won’t walk properly again.

Although he now talks non-stop, Anita says Cordell doesn’t realize where he is, tears off the tubes and tries to get out of his hospital bed. He wants to go home, to somewhere familiar. Nursing staff sometimes have to restrain him by tying him to his bed.

“Every day is different – but he is making awesome baby steps,” says Anita.

But once Cordell returns to Maple Ridge, he’ll need rehabilitation care, physiotherapy and counselling.

Besides running his cleaning business, the family is now scrambling to raise funds to meet those needs. They’ve already received a few donations – a car from Maple Ridge Chrysler for six months, $100 from Husky Gas, and Kimberly Dugale from Westgate Dental has donated $500. Dugale is challenging other business to do the same.

“I would like to thank everyone for all the donations received to date and for any future donations in,” says Anita. “No donation is too small.”

Donate

The Dame family has donation cans at several business in Maple Ridge, including Speciality Liquor Store, Black Sheep Pub, The Office Liquor Store, West Gate Dental, White Spot, Haney Public House, Ernest’s Hairhandlers, Haney Home Builders, Husky Gas, the Witch of Endor liquor store, Haney Hawgs Bike Shop and Rona.

• A trust account has also been set up to help the Dame family at TD Canada Trust. Donations can be made at any branch by quoting the transit number 91040 and account number 6477277. Cheques must be addressed to “Tina Dame”.

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