|by Jim Amidon • April 21, 2006|
Wabash College alumnus Ryan Smith ’03, who suffered a brutal beating while vacationing on the Dutch island of St. Maarten on April 6, is improving with every passing day.
Smith suffered a fractured skull, brain injury, and other injuries when he and a friend, Dick Jefferson, were attacked in what investigators are calling a hate crime. Smith was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, where he underwent surgery on his brain. Five days after the attack, he was able to walk again and was regaining his ability to communicate.
Smith faces a long recovery from the incident in which he was beaten with a tire iron. The injury to his brain affected his ability to speak and write. He continues to undergo speech and writing therapy in Miami and his improvement has been dramatic in the last week.
He continues to receive notes that Wabash friends are sending him; he is reading them; and he is grateful for all the love and support he has been receiving from the Wabash community.
"Every day people send that stuff, it is amazing," he said. "It has made me try to be better and better and better each and every day. It is so important to me."
The incident has sparked intense media scrutiny because of the St. Maarten police department's failure to investigate the crime, which officials there call "gay bashing." Only after repeated calls from Smith's family, media queries, and calls from CBS and personal attorneys did the island's chief prosecutor become involved. The case is now being investigated by several detectives.
Smith, a political science major and winner of Wabash's top journalism award, attended Columbia University upon graduation, receiving his master's degree in journalism. After completing an internship with David Letterman, Smith landed at the CBS news magazine 48 Hours, where he serves as an advanced researcher and producer. Jefferson, who was with Smith and four others on vacation, is the senior broadcast producer for CBS Evening News Saturday.