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Communities rally around Stow tragedy
Ask him if he’s angry, and John Stow will say, yes, of course, he’s had a few of those moments over the past 10 days. His cousin is in a medically induced coma, with possible brain damage, all because Bryan Stow rooted for the San Francisco Giants during a baseball game at Dodger Stadium.
The story is everywhere. The story is heartbreaking. The story is very real and very tragic to John Stow, 39, for whom Bryan, 42, has always been more brother than cousin. But there was no spite in John Stow’s voice, no malice toward the Dodgers or their fans, as he spoke over the phone from the Bay Area on Sunday afternoon.
At times, he sounded optimistic. At times, he sounded worried. At times, he sounded as if the emotion of it all would make it impossible for him to continue during what became a 50-minute interview.
But angry? No. Not now. Lashing out wouldn’t achieve the two objectives that matter most here — Bryan hugging his two children again, and well-meaning fans winning back the bleachers, so that this story is the last of its kind.
“Right now, we don’t have the energy to waste on anger or hate,” John Stow said. “We’re just focused on Bryan. That’s the standard feeling among all of us, the course we’re trying to take. That’s the healthiest way to deal with this.”
In less than two weeks, the Stow family has witnessed the worst and best of humanity — in that order.
On March 31, after the Dodgers defeated the Giants on Opening Day, Bryan Stow was brutally attacked by two assailants who remain at large. Police are offering a $100,000 reward — including funds promised by the Dodgers and Giants — for information leading to the arrests of those responsible.
The case has been assigned “top priority” by the Los Angeles Police Department, according to Chief Charlie Beck. Detectives are investigating hundreds of tips, LAPD spokesperson Karen Rayner said. So far, though, no one has been apprehended.
Stow, a paramedic from Santa Cruz, remains in critical condition after doctors prescribed him anti-seizure medication. “For the last three days, it’s been pretty much the same,” John Stow said. “The doctors put him in heavy sedation to limit his seizures and stabilize his healing. He’s doing well with that. He’s stayed very stable over the last couple days. The doctors achieved what they wanted to . . . Everything we hear is positive.”
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Meanwhile, the Stow family has marveled at acts of generosity they never expected.
There was a vigil last Wednesday at the Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center, where Bryan lies in a hospital bed.
There was the woman who said she would attend every fundraising event for Stow in the Bay Area and make contributions at each one.
There were the Giants fans who offered $10, $20 and $50 bills to John when they recognized him at Friday’s home opener.
There was the veteran LA firefighter who didn’t know the family at all but insisted that a stuffed angel — his good-luck charm — be given to Bryan.
“It’s the little things like that,” John Stow said. “Some really good things are happening here. He’s far from home, but so many people from LA are doing what they can to help.
“It’s very difficult for his parents to deal with all of this, but when I explain what’s happening, they’re overwhelmed. They can’t believe how many people love Bryan. I can’t even put it into words. I don’t think people have seen anything like this. It’s just amazing.
“It was such an ugly tragedy that happened. But there is so much beauty coming from something so ugly. We can’t say thank you enough to everybody.”
By Monday night, the family’s gratitude will reach another octave — as Bryan is honored at AT&T Park in San Francisco while fundraising efforts continue in both cities, to benefit the trust fund established for Stow and his children.
The Giants have announced that they will dedicate Monday’s game to Stow, with donations collected at gates throughout the stadium. It will be the first time the Giants and Dodgers play in San Francisco since the assault. The Giants Community Fund is also holding a silent auction during the game. Giants managing general partner Bill Neukom issued a statement recently, asking Giants fans to support Stow “as he fights for his life following this brutal and unconscionable act of violence.”
Meanwhile, the Dodgers and American Medical Response (Stow’s employer) will host a fundraiser in Parking Lot 1 at Dodger Stadium. Several local media outlets — including Prime Ticket, a subsidiary of Fox Entertainment Group — are partnering with the Dodgers for the drive-through relief event, which will last from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.
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But after the donations are made, a little after 7 p.m. local time in San Francisco, it will be time for the ancient rivals to play again. And we’ll find out if fans on both sides have learned, and changed, after all the heartache.
“I hope,” John Stow said, “that Giants fans and Dodgers fans alike enjoy a great baseball game. I hope they remember Bryan. I hope they’re kind to each other. I hope they just enjoy the game. It’s a friendly rivalry, but it’s an intense rivalry, too. If anyone (resorted) to violence, they’d be doing Bryan a disservice. He would hate to see that.
“I think Giants fans are the best in the world, and we’re going to show that on Monday. If everyone knew Bryan — really knew who he was — nobody would try to retaliate. That would be the last thing Bryan wanted. He loved the Giants-Dodgers rivalry. He’d love giving Dodgers fans a hard time. But he’d be the first one to shake their hand when they won.”
The Giants might win today. The Giants might lose. But it won’t change the realities that exist away from the ballpark: It’s only April. It’s only baseball. And it’s only a trifling matter, compared to the real-life drama in an LA hospital room.
“Bryan’s taking his time to heal,” John Stow said. “A lot of prayers and energy have been directed toward him. He’s a fighter. Right now, he’s fighting a battle inside of himself. When he’s ready to open his eyes, he will. He’s going to make that happen, regardless of what we’ve heard. Medicine is a wonderful thing, but the human spirit is even stronger.”
For those planning to donate at Dodger Stadium on Monday, checks should be made payable to the “Bryan Stow Fund.” Online donations are also being accepted at www.sfpcu.org. . . . Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has promised a “top-to-bottom review” of stadium security and fan services. Bill Bratton, a former Los Angeles police chief, has been hired by the club as a consultant in those areas. A Dodgers official confirmed Sunday the team will consider adjusting drink sizes and prices.