Saturday, February 27, 2021

BRAUN: Distance runner badly hurt in unprovoked attack

BRAUN: Distance runner badly hurt in unprovoked attack

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Kindly do not refer to Marion Raycheba as an old woman.

Or a jogger.

Raycheba, 75, is the woman featured in a horrifying police-issued video that shows her being knocked to the ground and kicked in the head by a man riding his bicycle on the sidewalk in downtown Toronto.

The coward attacked her from behind.

Raycheba is a long-distance runner who at the time of the attack, was completing one of the three 10-kilometre circuits she covers every week

It’s just part of a regimen she follows to keep fit, physically and psychologically.

And it’s a big part of the life she’s had to put on hold because of her injuries from this attack.

Raycheba was running in the Dundas St.-Spadina Ave. area when she was viciously assaulted about two months ago, just days before Christmas.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Video of the assault was hard to find, but police finally were able to release details of the unprovoked attack.

“I saw him coming toward me on his bike, really powering along and hunched over the handlebars,” said Raycheba. She recalled pointing out the bicycle lane next to the sidewalk, and offering the stranger her usual mantra: “Walk on the sidewalk, ride on the road.”


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Marion Raycheba, 75, needs a walker to get around after being attacked while running downtown late last year. CRAIG ROBERTSON/TORONTO SUN

Raycheba said she’s accustomed to being told to “Eff off” by cyclists on the sidewalk, but this time was different.

The thug pushed past her, shoving her off-balance. She had headphones on and was listening to opera at the time, “but I must have heard something, because I turned around and he was coming back at me, full speed. I was so shocked I didn’t know how to react.

“He hit me first on my left shoulder, then hit me a second time and I went down onto the concrete.”

She’s not clear about what happened next, once she was lying on the ground.

“But the police told me he then kicked me hard, he circled around and kicked me in the back of the head.”

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Passersby rushed to her aid. Raycheba could not feel her hands, arms or legs; she was rushed to Mt. Sinai.

The upshot was two weeks of hospitalization and care.

Raycheba has a complicated concussion requiring specialized physiotherapy.

She said her thinking and her activities are all affected, and she can no longer do most of the things that are important to her — running, writing, the volunteer work she does as the facilitator of the Downtown Parkinson Support Group. (The Parkinson’s work is particularly important to her as her late husband had Parkinson’s Disease; Raycheba was widowed only a year ago.)

She can’t give blood. Raycheba is a proud blood donor with 243 previous donations and regrets that now she may not achieve a personal goal of 300.

She can’t even get her own groceries and the simplest tasks are exhausting.


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The insult to her brain has made a 20-minute walk outside debilitating — this, for a long distance runner. She needs a walker now, of course.

“I cannot imagine myself ever running again. This would be a great loss for me. Distance running has always been the one thing I could count on to clear my heart and mind.”

Raycheba said she feels uncertain physically and emotionally.

But she has not lost her sense of humour, or her compassion. Of her attacker, she said, simply, “I’d not seen him before, and I have not seen him since. I have no idea what his motive was. It was a very brief encounter.

“It was just one of those things that comes out of the blue, and it will change my life.”

The suspect is described as Black, 25-30, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10,” with black hair and a muscular build.

He was last seen wearing a black surgical mask, tight black pants, a black windbreaker jacket with the hood pulled up, and a flap over the closure near the mouth. His bicycle has a black and white frame; he was carrying an extra-large backpack.


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