Alberni fisherman faces long rehabilitation and uncertain future

The Alberni fisherman who was beaten up and had his leg broken by three men has a long rehabilitation road ahead of him.

Bert McCarthy

The fisherman who was beaten up and had his leg broken in an altercation last week has a long rehabilitation road ahead of him.

On May 12, Hupacasath First Nation member Bert McCarthy, 41, was assaulted by four men outside of the Petro-Canada Gas Station can station on River Road. He was taken to hospital with head injuries and a severely broken leg.

Three men – one age 41 and two age 17 – have been charged with assault causing bodily harm in connection with the incident. A fourth man wasn’t charged.

McCarthy is home now, and facing a long recovery. His kneecap was smashed and will ultimately need to be replaced.

McCarthy, who lives near the gas station, was shocked that something like this could happen. “I don’t know how many times I’ve taken the same walk to the same station and nothing happened,” he said. “This is home to me.”

At his home, McCarthy lay prone on his couch, his heavy bandaged leg in constant pain. “I’ll need more operations then my kneecap has to be replaced,” he said.

He tries not to think about the incident, but it replays like a video clip sometimes. “I wonder how long they’d have kept hitting me if someone didn’t come,” McCarthy said. “And my mother. She was told her son was almost beat to death, that was her Mother’s Day present.”

The single father wonders what he’ll do now and how he’ll provide for his four-year-old daughter.

“I worked at a cement plant in Errington and was set to fish this season and now all that is gone,” McCarthy said. “I’ll be off work for a long time and don’t know if I can do that kind of work again.”

The incident has impacted his life in a more important way, namely with his daughter. “I used to play outside with her, bring her for bike rides and take her for walks and now I can’t,” McCarthy said. “I can’t even lift her up and carry her the way I used to.”

Jason Watts, who was with McCarthy just before the altercation, thinks about the incident as well and says he carries a measure of guilt that’s hard to shake.

“I wish I never left (McCarthy) at the marina. I wish I was there,” Watts said. “Maybe he wouldn’t have gotten it as bad. Maybe we both would have.”

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