KAMLOOPS — More than a year after suffering severe brain damage after anbaseball bat beating in Brocklehurst, Jessie Simpson, while improving slightly during his long road to recovery, remains in a coma at Royal Inland Hospital.
Simpson has had countless surgeries and there are more to come, but Wednesday marked his 20th birthday, a time to celebrate together in a time of tragedy.
"His mom Sue wanted to celebrate his 20th birthday, and we also felt it was an opportunity to keep his story alive," said family friend Kathy Desmond. "Many people are under the assumption things are well or he's on the mend, and the facts are he's struggling every day."
Friends and family gathered at the corner of Holt Street and Clifford Avenue, the site where Simpson was beaten in the early morning hours of June 19.
Simpson's high school friend Shayla Mortensen wanted to be there to show her love.
"Since Jessie can't be here, he can feel that we all still love him and still care, and I think the fact that we're all still hopeful is what brought us together on his birthday," noted Mortensen.
Simpson has been in hospital since the beating. The man who allegedly attacked simpson, Kristopher Teichrieb, faces trial in January — charged with attempted murder and aggrevated assault.
Simpson, though, continues to struggle.
"He's in ICU again due to setbacks," said Desmond. "There are many complications when someone has been bed-ridden for months and months, and he's suffered many of those complications."
That includes pneumonia and various infections following the countless surgeries he's endured.
His mom sue can't believe how tough her now 20-year-old son is. Sue can't speak at this point, advised by lawyers to stay quiet until the trial over.
But friends says she's struggling alongside her son.
"It's extremely difficult for Sue," said Desmond. "Single mom, just went back to work, then her son ends up back in ICU, and really it's life-threatening. She's having to take work off and go back and be by his bed side. She never knows from one day to the next."
Mortensen suffered brain damage in a recent car accident and can relate to her friend.
"November 21, 2015 I got in a car accident and I had a bad brain trauma, and now I am what I am today. I bring his mom hope," she said.
While it's touch and go for Simpson, his family and friends, there is hope amid tragedy that they will one day talk and hang out with their friend again.
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