Silverbridge woman critical following Chicago attack
April 27, 2010
By Brónagh Murphy
A 23-year-old student from Silverbridge remains in a critical condition in a Chicago hospital after she was attacked in the city on Friday.
Natasha McShane had been walking home from a night out with a female friend when the pair were violently attacked in a street mugging around 3.30am local time. Both women were struck repeatedly with an aluminium baseball bat.
Natasha, who had been studying at the University of Illinois in Chicago, suffered serious head injuries in the attack.
She is being treated in intensive care in the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Centre where last night her condition was described as critically ill.
Her parents, Liam and Sheila, have travelled to Chicago to be at their daughter’s bedside.
It’s believed Natasha and her friend were returning home from a night out celebrating her degree when they were attacked.
Approaching from behind, their attacker struck the two women a number of times on the head with the heavy aluminium bat, before stealing their purses and escaping.
Natasha’s friend, who was less injured, was able to flag down a passing motorist for help.
Police in Chicago said the attack is being investigated but, so far, no one has been arrested.
A very intelligent and talented young woman, Natasha completed her primary degree in Queen’s University, Belfast after which she spent some time on work experience with the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, working in the Economic Development Department’s Housing Division in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
In October 2008 The Examiner reported how she was awarded a prestigious cross-border scholarship, worth €20,000, which enabled her to undertake a two-year Master’s degree in University College Dublin.
In January this year, Natasha travelled to Chicago on an exchange programme to study Urban Planning at the University of Illinois. A spokesperson for the University confirmed Natasha is one of its students and said their thoughts are with her and her family.
The news of the attack has sent shockwaves through the village community in Silverbridge where Natasha and her family are very well-known and respected.
Her grandmother, Bernadette, described Natasha as ‘a great girl who always aimed high’ and said everyone is praying for her recovery.
Neighbours and friends have been in contact with family members to offer their support and prayers.
Sinn Féin Councillor, Colman Burns, said he had been in touch with the family.
“I spoke to Natasha’s grandmother and offered any assistance I could to them in this awful time,” he said.
“This was a terrible, unprovoked attack on this young girl. My thoughts are with the family and I hope Natasha will make a full recovery.”
MP Conor Murphy also offered his support to the McShane family.
SDLP Councillor, Geraldine Donnelly, said the whole community is supporting Natasha’s family during this difficult time.
“I know Natasha and her family. She is a lovely girl and we were all so proud when she went off to university in America on an exchange. It is so sad that she was attacked just as she was celebrating her degree.
“What has happened is absolutely dreadful and everyone’s prayers are with her for a speedy recovery,” Councillor Donnelly said.
The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed it is providing consular assistance to the McShane family.