LOS ANGELES, Calif. (FOX 11) - Tanya Nguyen — a victim, a survivor, a warrior — and she has the battle scars to prove it.
“The paramedics started counting one, two, three up to 11 and I said ‘what are you counting?"’ Tanya recounted from her trip to the hospital. “And they said you have 11 stab wounds, ma'am. I didn’t even know it.”
Evil leaving a trail of stab wounds on her body; injuries that may never heal. And then there are the invisible wounds; the scars on her soul.
“I feel helpless," Nguyen told FOX 11's Gigi Graciette in an exclusive interview as tears filled her eyes.
- Pregnant woman stabbed, carjacked in Los Angeles; multiple arrests made
- Pregnant Beverly Hills Catholic School teacher stabbed 10 times in carjacking
- 5 alleged gang members charged in vicious attack of pregnant school teacher
“I fall apart and I just start crying. I was the caretaker, I was the one who was independent and taking care of other people and children and now I’m just helpless.”
March 20 was a beautiful spring day in Los Angeles, Nguyen remembered the day like it was yesterday.
The pregnant first-grade teacher had just pulled up to her Sunland home. It was broad daylight when suddenly her car was surrounded by three men.
“I remember thinking they were probably visiting someone on my block. They looked so young”, Tanya said about the alleged gang members who attacked her.
Within seconds she was fighting for her life and for the life of her unborn baby.
After asking for her cell phone, one of the men began stabbing her as she sat in her car. She used her left hand to defend herself and shielded her stomach and child with her dominant hand. Then they pulled her out of the car, repeatedly stabbing and punching her.
“I screamed ‘I’m pregnant!’" Nguyen said. “I was just so scared at that moment. I was still in my first trimester and that’s so fragile, it’s such a fragile time. I said ‘Oh my God oh my God.’”
But even when she was down on the ground, drenched in blood, drifting in and out of consciousness her attacker kept stabbing her in the back.
The attack was so vicious it shocked even veteran Los Angeles Police Department officers who called the attack “animalistic”.
Police said the three men then stole her car, crashing it less than half a block away. The suspects left the scene in a getaway car with two women that had been waiting and watching, police said.
Nguyen was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Her lungs were punctured, her teeth were knocked out by a stab wound to her mouth. A piece of the knife’s blade lodged in her chest, putting her baby’s life at risk.
Within 24-hours, police had arrested five alleged gang members they said are responsible for attacking Nguyen, who now spends her days recovering. Bedbound most of the time and in excruciating pain, she is comforted by handwritten messages of love from her students — hundreds of them.
But with no use of her left hand — due to the damage she endured as she used her right to protect her baby during the attack — the Beverly Hills Catholic School teacher faces more surgeries. Her life, she said, is forever changed.
“This is supposed to be a special time when a woman feels the most beautiful and happy and elated. Planning a baby room, buying little baby clothes. I can’t even do that now,” Nguyen said as the tears returned. “I can’t even move my hand without shaking. I can’t bend my fingers. They cut completely the nerves, the artery, the veins, the tendons.”
The road to recovery is a long one for Nguyen. Her baby — due in the fall — is growing, and where there is life, there is hope.
“I’m willing to put this behind me and just move on,” Nguyen said. “All I ask for is peace in the future. I just want that reassurance that I have happy and peaceful days ahead."