POLITICS

Steve Fonyo out of coma, has head injury after violent home invasion: family

03/22/2015 04:08 EDT | Updated 05/22/2015 05:59 EDT
SURREY, B.C. - More than a month after Steve Fonyo was stabbed during a violent home invasion, he has been lifted from an induced coma but is suffering from memory loss and slurred speech.

His sister Suzanne Main said on Sunday that doctors have diagnosed him with a head injury but they don't know whether it will be permanent — and her family is holding out hope for a full recovery.

"When we arrived yesterday to visit him, he said, 'Oh, I'm so happy that you're here,' and he started to cry and he gave me a big hug," said Main, in a phone interview at her brother's hospital bedside.

"It's hard. We're accepting the fact that he has a brain injury but we're hopeful that he will recover. We're looking at it from day one when he was in a coma, and now he's better. It's just a waiting game."

She said the medically induced coma was slowly lifted about two weeks earlier, but her visit this weekend marked the first time she had seen him awake since the Feb. 13 attack.

RCMP have said the 49-year-old was transported to hospital after an early morning stabbing at a home in Surrey, south of Vancouver. Investigators believed three men stormed the home in what was likely a targeted attack.

Main said Fonyo has since recovered from a collapsed lung he suffered in the stabbing. She added his feeding tube was removed on Saturday and he can now eat soft foods.

But an MRI identified the head trauma, which is causing his voice to be slurred and his eyes to roll around when he talks. And because he has short-term memory loss, he has complained of a lack of visitors — when in fact Main's daughter has visited daily.

"He's aggravated. He wants to get out. We told him that people care about you and you've been on the news. And he said 'Oh really? Oh, oh.' He was happy to hear that."

Main said the head injury is preventing Mounties from interviewing Fonyo.

"They don't know anything until they interview Steve, and he's not quite ready to give an interview," she said.

"It's very frustrating. Definitely, we'd like to know. We're hoping that one day police will find whoever did it and press some charges. But we don't know. We don't know what happened."

Surrey RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

Fonyo, who lost a leg to bone cancer as a child, first became known to Canadians in 1984 when he ran across Canada to raise money for cancer research.

But his achievements were later overshadowed by criminal convictions and jail on charges including fraud, theft and assault with a weapon. He was formally stripped of the Order of Canada in 2010.

— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.