December 26, 2013

Maine woman still fighting back after vicious attack

Kayleigh Ballantyne of Gorham talks about her ordeal in South Boston and her recovery in the months since.

By Steve Solloway ssolloway@pressherald.com
Columnist

(Continued from page 2)

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Kayleigh Ballantyne, of Gorham, plays field hockey for Bryant College at a game with UMaine in Orono on Oct. 6, a few months after she was stabbed by an assailant outside her South Boston apartment. “He tried to take my life,” she says.

Michael C. York/Special to the Press Herald

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Kayleigh Ballantyne with her mother, Kim, after a field hockey game with UMaine in Orono on Oct. 6.

Additional Photos Below

When Kim arrived, she saw the tube in her daughter’s chest, the oxygen and IVs and her daughter’s eyes looking at her. She relaxed. Kayleigh was going to make it.

Keegan, a deep sleeper, was awakened by a friend telling him he had about six missed calls from his mother. “You assume the worst,” said Keegan, who lives in the Portland area. “It was kind of surreal to wake up to.”

He made his own phone calls. Soon, he and Kendrick, who lives in Gorham, were on the road. They met their father in Portsmouth, N.H. All three rode together, harboring fear and anger.

‘I FELT TOTALLY USELESS’

Kayleigh was assaulted early on a Wednesday morning. By Friday, she was at home in Gorham. Two weeks later, she walked around the cul-de-sac at the end of her street, leaning on her father. She walked slowly, once around the circle. Soon, it was twice around, then three times. Sometimes she walked with her father, other times with her brothers and mother.

“It was a long time to be home, sitting and eating,” Kayleigh said. “It was unfair. I’m here because of someone else. (Alemany) is taking my senior year away. He tried to take my life.”

Her father struggled with his frustration. He grew up in the small central Maine town of Palermo, a three-sport athlete at Erskine Academy in South China, not too far from Hallowell, where Kim Boothby grew up and played three sports. He was an officer in the Maine Air National Guard and is now part of FairPoint Communications’ management team in Maine. He’s used to leadership and being the answer guy.

“As a parent, every time my children got into a situation, I was always going back to my own childhood, thinking of something similar that happened to me so I could relate,” Bruce said. “In this, I felt totally useless. You always have to hear that someone believes in you. That’s all I was doing, telling her she could get through this because of everything else she’s been through.”

In April, Bruce was in Maine Medical Center in Portland for 30 days after another surgery. Kayleigh was by her father’s side as he walked the halls of the hospital, regaining his strength.

“I’m writing a Christmas letter to each of my kids,” Bruce said, four days before the holiday. “The boys rallied around her. Those boys never left her side that week. I’m proud of them for how they’ve handled all the tough things in our lives. We’ve taken it and worked through it.”

THE ROAD BACK

As the August days slipped by, Kayleigh fought to regain control of her life, weaning herself from pain medication and rebuilding her stamina and strength. She returned to Bryant for preseason practices. She was on campus in Smithfield, R.I., for Opening Convocation for the nearly 1,000 freshman during the first week of September.

Bryant President Ronald K. Machtley presented her with the university’s Character Award, recognizing her resolve. It was an emotional moment in a summer of emotional days.

“I knew, going back to school, everyone would know what happened to me,” Kayleigh said. “I felt a lot stares. ‘Wow, you’re back.’ ”

Classmates and fellow students would initiate conversation but sometimes didn’t know what to say. They tried, but couldn’t relate. Kayleigh felt most secure around her field hockey teammates, including senior triplets Mallory, McKayla and Megan Hancock from Skowhegan. “When my teammates asked questions, they knew me. They understood.”

Coach Shaunessey Saucier grew up in Old Town and was a student at the University of Maine when Kendrick was there. They knew each other. In fact, Saucier knew that Kendrick rushed from Orono to Portland when Kayleigh suffered her head injury.

(Continued on page 4)

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Additional Photos

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Kayleigh Ballantyne, right, of Gorham, hugs her father, Bruce, during the Opening Convocation at Bryant University in Rhode Island on Sept. 4. Kayleigh received the university’s Character Award for her courage in confronting her assailant.

David Silverman photo

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Edwin Alemany, 28, appears in court on Aug. 14. Besides facing charges in the attack on Kayleigh Ballantyne, he is a suspect in the fatal stabbing of Amy Lord of Wilbraham, Mass., and other assaults.

 


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