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Doctor recalls phoning baseball bat beating victim’s family to explain ‘dire situation’


Natasha McShane

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Updated: November 20, 2013 6:11AM

As Natasha McShane lay unconscious in a hospital bed, her brain swelling inside her skull, one of her pupils dilated -- a sign doctors call a “premonition of death.”

To save McShane’s life, doctors at Illinois Masonic Medical Center then had to remove a five-inch-square section of her skull to relieve the swelling, the young woman’s neurosurgeon, Dr. Leonard Kranzler, testified Friday in a Cook County courtroom.

Kranzler was on the stand, testifying in the trial of Heriberto Viramontes, 34, who is charged with attempted murder, armed robbery and aggravated battery in the April 23, 2010 attack on McShane and her friend, Stacy Jurich.

McShane, an exchange student from Northern Ireland, and Jurich were on their way to Jurich’s Bucktown home after a night of celebratory drinking and dancing when Viramontes — brandishing a baseball bat — pounced in a viaduct in the 1800 block of North Damen in the early morning hours, prosecutors allege.

Kranzler testified that when he first saw McShane, she was unconscious and intubated. The neurosurgeon said at some point, it became clear, part of her fractured skull would need to be removed.

“I called her father in Ireland,” Kranzler said, adding he was able to “explain the dire situation” to him.

As Kranzler spoke on the stand, several among McShane’s family members, who have traveled to Chicago from Northern Ireland, wiped tears. At one point, McShane’s mother, Sheila, hurried out of the courtroom.

Assistant State’s Attorney Margaret Ogarek asked Kranzler if a baseball bat could have caused the injuries McShane suffered.

“That is a method that is consistent with what injuries we identified,” Kranzler said.

After McShane was treated at Illinois Masonic, she was later treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, before eventually returning home to Northern Ireland, where she remains today. McShane cannot talk and can walk only with assistance.

Earlier Friday, a Chicago Police commander testified about how he found a wallet and Viramontes’ state ID in the van where the baseball bat allegedly used in the attack was recovered.

The trial is expected to continue Monday.


Twitter: @slesposito

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