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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 4:06 pm | Fair 63º


Student’s Memories of His Year in Santa Barbara Marred By Assault

A foreign exchange student is recovering after being beaten just days before he was to return to China.

When Henry T. returned to China this winter, his plan was to take back with him a stronger command of the English language and memories of the year he spent in Santa Barbara.

“I want to use what I learned and do something with languages,” said the 21-year-old foreign exchange student attending the ELS Language Center on Anapamu Street.

The English he’ll take with him, but the fond memories of life in Santa Barbara have been eclipsed by a brutal beating he took as he walked back to his host family’s home last Tuesday.

According to Henry, he was walking alone in the area of Bath and Valerio streets about 2 a.m. Nov. 25 after a night of celebrating at the local Sharkeez when he heard steps behind him.

“I saw a man swing at my head with something in his hand,” he said. “It could have been a brick or something, I don’t know.”

Henry was able to dodge the blow but lost his balance and landed on the ground. The next thing he knew, he said, his attacker was punching and kicking him in the head and face.

“I said, just take my wallet.” Henry took several blows to his face, enough to cut him above his eye and break his nose. The attacker took his wallet and a camera. His head throbbing and face streaming with blood, he managed to make it back to his host family’s house, and they called 9-1-1.

Things seemed to get worse, he said, when he went to the emergency room at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Already traumatized by such a brutal beating, he had to endure rough treatment by hospital personnel, he said.

“The doctor called me a crybaby,” he said, for weeping during his examination and treatment. Janet O’Neill, a spokeswoman for SBCH, said she didn’t know about the incident so had no comment. She did, however, suggest that Henry file a complaint to give her more information on the issue.

Henry, who was to go home last Friday to his family with an English-language certification and a camera full of memories, wound up having surgery that day instead to correct his displaced septum. Instead of pictures and video, he’ll have scars to remind him of Santa Barbara.

According to Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte of the Santa Barbara Police Department, the report of the incident has been forwarded to investigators for review and investigation.

“We are not treating it as gang-related at this time,” he said. “Right now, we’re looking at it as an assault and robbery.” There was only one suspect, whom Henry and one other witness saw only in the dimly lit street and described as Caucasian or Hispanic.

Henry is now staying with a friend he met through classes at Santa Barbara City College, who agreed to see him through his operation and weeklong observation and recovery. During that time, he’ll have to figure out what to tell his parents, who were expecting him home by now.

“I told them I would be delayed,” he said, “but I didn’t tell them why because I don’t want them to get worried.”

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