In each “Behind the Scenes” segment, Village Media's Scott Sexsmith sits down with one of our local journalists to talk about the story behind the story.
These interviews are designed to help you better understand how our community-based reporters gather the information that lands in your local news feed. You can find more Behind the Scenes from reporter across Ontario here.
Today's spotlight is on NewmarketToday's Rob Paul whose story 'New animal rescue saves mother of dead puppies near Iron Bridge' was published on Oct. 12.
Here is the original story if you need to catch up:
It started as a normal Wednesday in October for Newmarket resident Jacob and his partner, Hazel.
Jacob (NewmarketToday is using pseudonyms to protect the identities of the victims who are concerned for their safety) made a coffee, jumped in his car, and drove down the street to the York Curling Club. He parked, turned off his car, and was planning to listen to the radio while he enjoyed his coffee.
That’s when two men came up to his car window asking for help and if they could use his phone. It was just after 9 a.m., in broad daylight outside a well-known community recreation spot, so Jacob didn’t think much of it and handed over his phone to the men.
He then got out of his car — which he said was his first mistake — as the men tried dialling a number twice.
“Then the guy with my phone looked me dead in the eye and said, ‘This is my phone now,’ and put it in his pocket,” Jacob said. “His buddy beside him looked at me and said, 'Give me your keys, too.”
When Jacob hesitated to hand over his keys, the men began throwing punches and Jacob had to fight back.
“Then a third guy came in and they put me into a chokehold and got me on the ground and they took off with my car,” he said. “I managed to get up and run home.”
Living nearby, Jacob got home in minutes and began trying to find Hazel and when he did, he collapsed shortly after.
“I thought he died in my arms,” she said. “Blood was coming out of his mouth and I was trying to get him to wake up.”
Hazel managed to get Jacob inside the house and locked all the doors and called 911. Police and paramedics responded quickly and Jacob was taken to the hospital.
“I started shutting down all our bank accounts and called OnStar,” Hazel said. “We found the car within 27 to 47 minutes ...They got his car back and phone back.”
The car was found in Toronto and two of the three men have been arrested, but no details have been shared because it’s an ongoing investigation that’s connected to a carjacking ring.
“It’s a much bigger investigation than this,” said Jacob. “The police told us they’re part of the York-Peel-Toronto carjacking ring.”
As a result of the assault, Jacob has a concussion, can’t see out of his left eye, has a few ribs that have shifted out of place, scratches all over his body, bruising in his ear, damaged nose cartilage, and he struggles to open his mouth. The aftermath of the incident has been taxing on Jacob both physically and mentally.
“He came back that afternoon on Wednesday very disoriented,” said Hazel. “We had to take him back to the hospital on Thursday because he was having night terrors.”
After returning from the hospital, Hazel had called the police that night because Jacob went into a ‘child-like state,’ according to the crisis officer.
“They said it’s a coping mechanism for the brain,” she said. “He brought his PlayStation to bed and tucked it in and cried while singing a lullaby to it. We panicked and took him back to the hospital and they said his brain is going to a safety blanket to help him calm down.”
There has also been a financial impact that they didn’t expect as victims of a violent crime.
“We had to pay to have the car towed from Toronto to the police headquarters in Aurora,” said Hazel. “Then we had to pay another fee to the towing depot in Bradford to get the car back.”
Hazel expected they would have to pay to have the security system in the car fixed and new keys made, but didn’t think they would have to pay to get their car back.
“Then we had to pay to get it cleaned because they left the residue of the chemicals on the outside and inside,” she said. “We’ve spent close to $3,000 on the towing, washing the car, and everything.”
After going through a traumatic event and spending thousands of dollars to get their car back and fixed, Hazel said they still can’t even get Jacob the therapy he needs to help on his road to recovery.
“We can’t get any counselling for him yet because the detective on the case hasn’t given the full authority to victim services, he’s put it on hold,” she said. “It’s been a week, when can he start talking through this? Why does he have to suffer more while we wait on this investigation?”
Victim services is waiting on more information from the detective, said Jacob, and while he’s healing physically, he’s not mentally.
“I need someone to talk to,” he said.
“How is he supposed to overcome all this,” added Hazel. “To quote the detective, ‘It’s time to move on and get back to your life,’ but how can he do that when there’s no proper services for him right now?”
Jacob went back to the hospital to try and check himself into the mental health ward, but they won’t keep him overnight because there are no beds.
“The best that they did was have me speak to a crisis manager and prescribe me lorazepam,” he said. “Then they sent me on my way.”
Currently the couple is paying for counselling out of pocket, but has already spent $400 for two sessions and don’t know how much more they can afford.
Jacob and Hazel feel like they’ve been left on their own to navigate everything even though Jacob was a victim of an unprovoked random violent crime.
“There’s been a lack of communication and support,” Hazel said, “but I’m just thankful he’s alive.”