Brits teenage hero faces paralysis after mugging

2013-01-03 00:00

A TEENAGE boy is facing paralysis after his bravery saved a girl from being shot on New Year’s Eve.

Luday van der Merwe will turn 16 tomorrow in the Dr George Mukhari hospital in Ga-Rankuwa.

“He saved my life. He’s a hero. I was scared, but I’m alive because Luday pushed me out of the way,” a tearful Deidré Strydom (19) said yesterday.

Luday lives with his grandmother, Jenny Wallis, in Brits after his mother, a single parent, died of cancer last year.

In 2007, he suffered brain damage in a car accident and had to learn to talk and walk again, with Wallis’s help.

Now, she said, doctors have told her he will be paralysed from the chest down after a mugger’s bullet lodged in his spinal cord.

He was at the house of friends on New Year’s Eve when another guest became worried about her dogs, while crackers were being let off in the neighbourhood.

Luday, Strydom and her brother, Marcel (16), offered to walk down the street to check on the animals.

“On the way back, three men came up to us. One fired a shot in the air and then held the gun to my little brother’s head,” said Strydom.

“I pushed him away, but another man searched me for my cellphone.

“When he turned away, I ran back towards Luday.”

She was standing in front of him when the man pointed the firearm at her. “Luday turned me and pushed me out of the way. The bullet hit him.”

The muggers fled and Marcel ran for help.

“I held Luday’s head on my lap. My arms and clothes were full of his blood,” she said.

The bullet penetrated Luday’s shoulder, went through his lung and lodged in his spinal cord.

The party hosts rushed him to the Brits MediClinic, and he was later transferred to the Mukhari hospital for specialist care when X-rays showed the bullet lodged in his spine. Doctors told Wallis he will most probably be paralysed from the chest down, she said.

“His friends are crying so,” she said.

“The girl blames herself, but it’s not her fault.”

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