Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By Steve Solloway firstname.lastname@example.org
SMITHFIELD, R.I. — Kayleigh Ballantyne saw the knife in the stranger’s hand. Do you want my money, she asked? Instead of answering, the man stabbed the 21-year-old college student from Gorham again and again. For reasons known only to her assailant, he wanted her life.
Kayleigh Ballantyne, of Gorham, plays field hockey for Bryant College at a game with UMaine in Orono on Oct. 6, a few months after she was stabbed by an assailant outside her South Boston apartment. “He tried to take my life,” she says.
Michael C. York/Special to the Press Herald
Kayleigh Ballantyne with her mother, Kim, after a field hockey game with UMaine in Orono on Oct. 6.
Kayleigh wouldn’t give it to him. She fought back.
This is her story, told nearly five months after the violent assault in South Boston. She was stabbed nine times. One wound missed her heart by less than an inch. Another punctured a lung. Five stabs of the knife damaged nerves and muscle in her left arm, which she used to deflect his attack and shield her heart. Two more stabs cut into both sides of her mouth as the man tried to stop her screams for help.
Kayleigh wouldn’t give up. During the violence, Edwin Alemany, her alleged attacker, was cut badly by his own knife. He ran off, leaving Kayleigh to pick up the pieces of a life that had been altered so quickly. In one moment she was the girl next door, full of energy and excitement. In the next, she was on the floor at her apartment building’s entrance, bleeding and struggling to breathe.
On Wednesday, she celebrated Christmas at home in Gorham. “It’s my favorite holiday, just being in the presence of my family,” she said last week, curled in a chair in the office of her field hockey coach at Bryant University in Rhode Island.
She was a star player for Gorham through much of her high school career. The sport was one of her passions. She was named Bryant’s sole captain before summer began. This fall, that passion helped her mind and body to mend. So did the gifts of love, support and understanding from her family and friends.
The gift of life, Kayleigh Ballantyne gave to herself through her strength and her faith.
“For some reason, God has given me these challenges to be stronger,” she said. “I’m really blessed.”
THE CHALLENGE: TO SURVIVE
On July 24, Kayleigh’s challenge was survival. It was past midnight and she was alone, walking from a public transportation stop to the apartment she shared with recent Bryant graduates in South Boston. She was returning from her summer job as a hostess at a restaurant in Cambridge. Her assailant followed her and pushed his way into the building when she opened the door.
Kayleigh is 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and slender. Alemany is an inch or two taller, heavier and seven years older. But he wasn’t the college athlete preparing for a senior season.
Kayleigh played forward, was Bryant’s leading scorer the year before with seven goals and 10 assists, and wanted to end her college career with a flourish. She was fit, physically and emotionally.
Her attacker may have cut himself when she kicked at him. All she knows is that he was gone. Her lung was collapsing and she couldn’t stand. She crawled to the elevator, reached her floor and crawled to her apartment. Her key was in her pocket. She reached up to open the door and called to the two roommates who were there that night.
“I didn’t know how many times I was stabbed or exactly where. I told them to get towels (to stanch the bleeding) and call 911. My roommates were scared, there was so much blood everywhere. I can’t imagine what they were seeing.
“Once I knew I had help, I started to cry. I was praying. It wasn’t in my hands anymore. If (God) wants me, he’ll take me. If it’s my time, it’s my time. I thought there was a reason I was still alive,” she said.
(Continued on page 2)
click image to enlarge
Kayleigh Ballantyne, right, of Gorham, hugs her father, Bruce, during the Opening Convocation at Bryant University in Rhode Island on Sept. 4. Kayleigh received the university’s Character Award for her courage in confronting her assailant.
David Silverman photo
click image to enlarge
Edwin Alemany, 28, appears in court on Aug. 14. Besides facing charges in the attack on Kayleigh Ballantyne, he is a suspect in the fatal stabbing of Amy Lord of Wilbraham, Mass., and other assaults.