A Crescent Beach resident who was assaulted by a group of youth Friday is now recovering from the serious facial injuries he sustained in the attack.
Erik Seiz, 46, underwent surgery earlier this week to have a broken cheekbone reset, and a plate inserted where the bone supporting his left eyeball was “blown out.”
While Seiz said has “no idea” how long recovery will be – his first assessment is scheduled for later this week – the prognosis is much better than it had been last week, after he was beaten with sticks by a group of male teens near his home.
“It looked like there would be no vision coming from the left eye anymore,” he said. “It looked really, really bad.”
Having since learned his sight will return, Seiz applauds the “incredibly supportive” medical community, as well as the police “for following up as thoroughly as they did.”
Five youths aged 14 to 16 are facing charges of assault with a weapon, and one has been charged with assault causing bodily harm.
The teens – four are Langley residents and one is from Surrey – have been released to their parents, and are to make a future court appearance.
Cpl. Drew Grainger said the incident is unusual for the area given the age of the youth and the level of violence that was used in the assault.
“It’s just so uncharacteristic of the quiet beach community of Crescent Beach.”
Seiz said he had seen his assailants earlier Friday evening while he and his girlfriend sat on his deck.
“They were drinking, carrying bottles, walking by,” he recalled. “They kind of shouted ‘hey’ to us and we said ‘hello’ back, and they carried on their way to the beach.”
Seiz and his girlfriend went inside to watch a movie. Thirty minutes later, around 11 p.m., he heard a noise at the front door.
“We went back out to the deck where we had just said hello to these guys and they had taken large pieces of driftwood from a container that we have right there and they were beating on the fence and the entranceway.”
Seiz said the sticks were round, varying from four to eight feet in length, and were being banged against the house and path entrances, and the path fence.
“They all had, effectively, clubs… and they were assaulting the house.”
Seiz said he yelled at the teens and hopped off the deck to pursue them as they dispersed down Maple Street.
“We got about a block away and they turned and struck.”
Seiz said he was circled and received the first blow to the head from behind, before others joined in on the beating.
“It happened so quickly,” said Seiz, who also suffered a broken nose. “You’re just sort of reacting from a threatening position… I didn’t lose consciousness but definitely things are quite fuzzy.”
A security guard working for a nearby movie crew scared the boys off.
“Thank God for the security guard at the movie set. I really don’t know where this would’ve ended up, because there was no evidence of these guys stopping.”
Seiz said a nearby kayaker created a tourniquet for his eye, guided the 911 call, assisted paramedics and police and comforted his girlfriend.
Three of the assailants fled in a taxi, which was intercepted by police at the Chevron gas station at 128 Street and Crescent Road, Grainger said.
Further investigation led to the apprehension of two others, but Grainger was unable to say when they were arrrested.
Seiz said he has since learned the group had also made “a big ruckus” in front his neighbour’s property. When his neighbour shone a spotlight and told them to be quiet, they started screaming at him and throwing rocks at his house.
He also heard they tipped over a portable toilet on the movie set.
Seiz said he feels violated by the attack, especially because the offenders knew he was home.
“It’s almost like, half an hour earlier, we’d given them a pass. I mean, they’re walking by with alcohol, they shout out at us, we nod back and say hello – we kind of have an unwritten contract of ‘I’ll leave you alone, you leave me alone.’ So, to come back to someone you know to some level and you’re shamelessly, relentlessly breaking into their space, like what if my (girlfriend) had answered the door? What was the intent? It’s Clockwork Orange is what it is. It’s just unbelievable.”
Seiz said he hasn’t yet considered the level of disciplinary action he would like to see the culprits face.
“I haven’t really gone there,” he said. “I’m just focused on making sure I can see again. So you’re kind of living with, on one hand, the depression of never seeing out of an eye but being happy to be alive to now looking like I’ll be able to recover.”
While violence in the area is “a bit new,” Seiz said rowdy beachgoers have been an ongoing problem in Crescent Beach.
“I feel terrible for (families) because they’re down here on the beach enjoying themselves, and then you’ve got these little groups of mouthy kids swearing at the top of their lungs,” he said. “You wouldn’t get away with it at Jericho (Beach), you wouldn’t get away with it at a provincial park anywhere. Try doing that in Tofino… it would never happen, but for some reason it’s regular down here and it’s disturbing.”
Seiz noted there are also pleasant visitors, such as a man Seiz saw with his girlfriend and a guitar, or the kayaker who ended up helping him.
“There’s that side,” he said. “So how could you manage the environment here in such a way that allows for a beautiful, romantic evening and keeps the other thing off, because you don’t want to shut the beach down. You want it to be that special place that everyone loves and uses, but you’ve got to get this ridiculousness off.”
Seiz said he is hopeful something positive will come of his experience.
“I think this highlights an issue that’s growing and that needs a solution. So if something like this causes a solution to come out, then I think it’s not all for nothing.”