Teen stabbed at rural Alberta school recovering, but mother says long road ahead

A teenager who was stabbed at a rural Alberta school and airlifted to a hospital in Edmonton has survived his injuries, but it will be a long road to recovery, his mother says.

Reyez Rowan, 16, has woken up from a coma and is recovering from emergency surgery in the University of Alberta Hospital.

But a stab wound that cut through two arteries in Rowan’s pelvis led to muscle damage in his calf. He’s lost mobility in his foot as a result, according to Shanise Rowan Yellowbird, the boy’s mother.

“We still have a really long road of recovery ahead of us,” Rowan Yellowbird said, noting that Rowan will have to undergo intense rehab and physiotherapy. “But yesterday was the good news from the surgeon that he’s now out of the woods. That was a sense of relief.”

Wetaskiwin RCMP responded to Pigeon Lake Regional School, a Grade 7 to 12 school about 70 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, after getting a call about a stabbing shortly before 11 a.m. on April 25.

Responding officers found Rowan injured; he had a stab wound to the chest and lower abdomen.

That day, Rowan Yellowbird had plans to pick up her son for lunch.

She learned of the incident when she arrived and the school doors were locked. The school had been put under lockdown for several hours so police could investigate the scene.

A school staff member unlocked the door for her, but was clearly in shock, Rowan Yellowbird said.

“They took me to him right away,” she said.

“I saw him in the office laying in a pool of blood. He was dying right in front of me.”

Eventually, a STARS air ambulance arrived and flew Rowan to hospital in Edmonton, where he underwent emergency surgery, RCMP said.

A 16-year-old boy, who also attends Pigeon Lake Regional School, is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault, RCMP say. He’ll appear in youth court next month. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The boy was already in the operating room by the time Rowan Yellowbird, who drove to Edmonton separately, arrived at the hospital, she said.

The first night was the hardest, she said, because doctors couldn’t stop the bleeding. Rowan had lost so much blood that they were worried about potential brain damage.

But he pulled through. He has long incisions on his chest and under his armpit, because surgeons had to look at his heart, Rowan Yellowbird said.

On Saturday, Rowan was still on some medication, but his ventilation tube had been removed. He was sitting up, had started to eat and drink and was awaiting surgery on his leg, she said.

“It’s a miracle that he’s alive,” she said.

“They came to tell us that they’re going to use his case as case of the year.”

A 16-year-old boy, who also attended Pigeon Lake Regional School, has been charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault, police say.

He has since been released from custody on conditions. He is scheduled to appear in Wetaskiwin youth court on June 1, police say.

Support from commmunity

Rowan Yellowbird says there has been a lot of support for her son.

On Friday, she watched from the window a parade of vehicles drive by the hospital to show support; others were outside the hospital singing.

A GoFundMe campaign was launched Friday to support Rowan Yellowbird and her son financially during his recovery.

Rowan Yellowbird, a single mother, is a construction worker but will be taking the summer off to help her son, she said.

As of 2 p.m. Sunday, the campaign had raised $1,530 from 22 donations.

“I’m just thankful for all the support we’ve got so far.”

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