Edmonton

LRT attack victim says she will likely never use public transit again

Sharda Devi Naidu, 78, is recovering in hospital after she was pushed onto LRT tracks on Monday night. She told CBC News from her hospital bed that even before this week, she was afraid to use public transit.

Sharda Devi Naidu thinks it’s ‘very scary’ to get on the Edmonton train

Sharda Devi Naidu, 78, recovering in hospital from a shattered leg. (Dennis Krishna/GoFundMe)

The Edmonton woman who was pushed onto LRT tracks on Monday night says she will likely never take public transit again. 

Sharda Devi Naidu, 78, spoke to CBC News by phone from her hospital bed. The grandmother's right leg was shattered when she was pushed off the platform at the Health Sciences/Jubilee LRT station on Monday. 

She had just finished working a porter shift at University Hospital and was eager to get home.

Naidu remembers "an older guy and a young guy" close by while she was waiting for the train in a glass-enclosed area next to the platform. 

"And this [younger] guy was calling me names and everything. So I said to him, 'Don't bug me,'" Naidu recalled.

She said there was no sign of security so she moved to the platform and pulled out her phone to call the police. 

"Then he punched my face," Naidu said as her voice began to break. "And he pushed me down." 

When she landed on the tracks, Naidu knew instantly that she'd broken her leg. She spotted a bone sticking out and was unable to stand up.

"I saw the train coming," she said. "I thought I'm done."

Fortunately, the train was able to stop in time. Naidu said it felt like she was on the tracks for a long time before help arrived to transport her to the hospital right across the street. 

Police issued this photo of the suspect following Monday's attack on Sharda Devi Naidu. (Edmonton Police Service)

Naidu underwent four hours of emergency surgery and the prognosis is unclear, although she said she has begun to receive therapy. She's not sure how long she'll remain in hospital and according to a GoFundMe campaign, doctors aren't sure if she'll ever walk again.

Money is being raised to modify her home to make it more accessible. In just two days, the $10,000 goal has been surpassed.

The senior doubts she'll ever return to work, but she's appreciated co-workers dropping by her hospital room to check on her. Naidu was also grateful for two police officers who paid her a visit with flowers and a card. 

Criminal record

Naidu said that even before Monday night's incident, she felt unsafe taking public transit. She said when she travelled to work in the morning, she would try to sit with co-workers. But recently, Naidu had someone scream and swear at her on the train.

Sharda Devi Naidu is recovering in hospital after she was pushed onto LRT tracks Monday night by a stranger. (Submitted by Ram Mudalier)

"It's just scary," she said. "Very scary to get on the train."

The 20-year old man accused of assaulting Naidu was arrested on Tuesday after he allegedly used or threatened to use bear spray on a man at the Churchill LRT station.

Court records show that just last month, the same accused was found guilty of possession of a weapon dangerous to the public, possession of a prohibited firearm and failure to comply with a release order. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and given a lifetime firearms prohibition. 

Last November, he was convicted of robbery and sentenced to two years in jail along with another lifetime firearms prohibition.

Naidu is glad her accused attacker is once again behind bars. 

"I'm 78," she said.  "At this age to suffer, I think it's not right."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice Johnston

Court and crime reporter

Janice Johnston is an investigative journalist with CBC Edmonton who has covered Alberta courts and crime for more than three decades. She won a national Radio Television Digital News Association award in 2016 for her coverage of the trial of a 13-year-old Alberta boy who was acquitted of killing his abusive father. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca.

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