Former Boston Blazer's and Buffalo Bandits' star and New England lax guru, Randy Fraser, was stabbed on Saturday during a post game party at the The Aleš Hrebeský Memorial Box Tournament with his team and others at the tournament sports club in Prague, in the Czech Republic. As a result, he received a severe cut across his wrist and was rushed to the hospital where he had emergency surgery. Randy spent the next two days in recovery and was released on Monday and arrived home on Tuesday.
Fraser was playing with Billy Curtis' Rebel Wear team, a group regularly participating at the Prague event and 4-time champion. The annual All-star game was played that evening with the star of the game being Fraser, scoring two goals. After the game there were fireworks and festivities throughout the sports club. On Saturday the Rebel team had finished its games as the top seed of their bracket and was en-route to another title but the team pulled out of the games after the incident. Team Leader Billy Curtis contacted us via e-mail with the news "As Randy was joining his other Rebel teammates for dinner he was attacked by a disturbed Ukrainian man with a knife. The man that did this horrific crime was incarcerated. There was no explanation given by the authorities. Nor was there assurance of our team's safety for the remainder of the tournament. The authorities could not confirm whether this was an Anti-American act or just the action of a disturbed individual. With these issues and our concerns for Randy's well being the Rebel team withdrew from the tournament".
E-Lacrosse talked to Fraser on Thursday en-route to a doctor's appointment, one of many he will have to keep to potentially gain full use of his left hand again. "I may be dealing with a paralyzed hand and may never be able to play lacrosse again but my spirits are high. The cut is two inches down the wrist from my hand and reached all the tendons and all the nerves to the small muscles there. Atrophe may be an issue and tendons usually require follow-up surgeries during the long healing process".
We earlier reported that the attacker had motioned to see Fraser's hand before slashing across one of Fraser's wrists with the blade, but Fraser says that there was no contact before the slash, other than the split second he noticed the knife and his glance back at the attacker. The two were sitting back to back at booths of a bar. Fraser recalls the guy, who was sitting with others, bumping heads, literally, between the booths, with another person at Fraser's booth. But that was the only previous contact the attacker had with his specific table. "The guy had run-ins with people all night though," says Fraser who describes the incident. "I had my left arm up on the back of the booth seat. I looked back at my arm and this guy had a knife hovering over it and then when he saw me notice him, he grabbed my fingers with the other hand, holding my arm while he pressed down with the knife. It was like we were frozen for two seconds with the pressure of the knife on my wrist and then he cut deeply across my wrist. It was like he was trying to cut my hand off. I realized what had happenned as some teammates helped me and others approached the guy who was sitting at his table, knife in hand, smiling. I was rushed outside to the parking lot after that."
Rebel's Victor Minoglio and Geoff Ianiri jumped to attend to Fraser's injury applying a makeshift tourniquet while the attacker threw chairs finally gathering everyone in the clubs attention. The tournament's head referee, Mike Ventura, who also withdrew after the incident, says the attacker then turned toward Rebel Goalkeeper Larry Fila's wife and young Daughter brandishing the bloody knife when a few of the players jumped him. Longtime law enforcement member and Philly Box Lax player, Frank Menschner stopped the maniac with a beer mug (two actually) to the back of his head and Petr Bek, a player for Radotin, the Czech club hosting the event, grabbed the knife. "Frank was the hero of the day, or I don't know what might have happened" said Ventura. "And then none of us felt safe enough to continue. It may have been a very isolated incident and a lone guy, but we had no way of knowing one way or the other. We just all went to the hospital with Randy." Ventura added that the Czechs running the event were mortified and extremely embarrassed by the attack but had no security at the after-event (there was a police presence at the tournament itself all day) and could not absolutely ensure the continued safety of participants, not sure themselves yet what had happenned and why.
The situation was exacerbated by the language barriers and the policies of local officials, not-so-removed from the previous eastern bloc reputation. The ambulance would not leave for the hospital until someone paid 1,500 crowns or about 80 dollars US to the drivers and provided a passport. Fraser's passport was in the hotel and someone rushed to get it, delaying the ambulances departure some 15 minutes. During the wait, Rebel's rented van, sitting behind the ambulance and eagerly waiting to go to the hospital was given a ticket by the responding police officers. When Fraser finally reached the hospital, his attacker was put in the next hospital room and could be seen by the team getting treatment too. The police interviewed some witnesses but never Fraser and later stated that the attacker would likely be deported to The Ukraine instead of prosecuted. "The doctors and nurses were awesome once we got to the hospital", says Curtis. "His surgery was performed with minor local anesthesia which was awful for him, but they attended to him professionally and he'll be ok".
Curtis, who loves the Czech Republic and has been a huge US supporter of Prague events was understandably upset, "I have been involved in international lacrosse and the development of the sport for more than 12 years and have never seen anything more disturbing than this violent attack. This has affected a great many people and could be quite damaging to international lacrosse in many ways. We can't go back now. I lost a sense of security that I always had in Europe. Let's all pray for Randy's quick recovery and hope that this sort of random violence can be prevented in the future."
Fraser, whose father, Ron, was also an indoor lacrosse star and the last coach of the Boston Blazers, will arrive in the US tonight and was not available for comment. People close to him say he's mostly just sorry that it all happened and that a wonderful trip and tournament were ruined by the events.
The US State Department has services to assist victims of crime on foreign soil and will assist Fraser and the team in any follow up related to the incident.
A Report From Prague
By John Hetzel
It's a terrible tragedy that this happenned and that the good work of so many people for so many years has been jeopardized.
I will try to get an interview with the culprit if possible before I leave on Monday and figure out what, if anything, he was thinking about. Everyone here is shocked, angry and insulted. The Ukrainian guy who cut Randy is a normal workman who has been going to the club's sport bar several times a week for a few months to have beers after work. He had never been in trouble before with the authorities or the bar. His boss came to the jail and bailed him out and said he is a model worker. He will stand trial here in the Czech Republic since he is here officially (visa holder). He can receive from 2 to 10 years for cutting Randy. The sport club and town will prosecute him to the full extent of the law.
This is a case much more impacting and complicated than a fight gone bad at a lax tournament. This is a tiny town of 8,000. This event is the biggest event of the year here. There is absolutely no history of violent random crime here. This was the action of one guy who couldn't handle himself drinking and was unable to express himself amidst all the powerful and radiant lacrosse players around him. The big, bustling and international crowd in his normally sleepy and Czech speaking bar set something off in him. Other guys came forward after and said they'd had trouble with the guy who had had his knife out earlier, drank enough to blow a 2.0, and was obviously extremely jealous of all the wordly and cut guys around him. He wanted to show everybody his own strength but nobody could or wanted to understand him. That he cut Randy, one of the biggest stars and best guys at the tournament shows just how ludicrous an act it was. There was no reason at all to attack Randy, of all people.
I Believe the club sports bar bares some responsibility for not sniffing out trouble better and getting the guy out of there before he flipped out. But in their defense, it was a great party with a big crowd and free and easy atmosphere up to that point. There has never been a reason to expect the cruel and primitive behavior that was to ensue, especially from a guy who'd been in there before. We can really only blame the attacker.
There was a police presence for the whole day at the stadium and for some strange reason they left after the fireworks and before the evening party which was to be held at the gym above the sport bar. There should have been a few officers around since there were still 500 or so people around the grounds. There was also an ambulance at the field all day which also left after the fireworks about 20 minutes before the attack. These are errors that will never be repeated here in Radotin, but in the town's defense, there has never been a precedent for such an aberration, so there was no protocol to assure Bill and Rebel that it was what it was, a drunk guy doing something completely crazy and moronic.
I have a bit more detail about the attack, as well. Randy didn't even know it was a real knife before the man made one pass and opened up a vicious cut that splayed out tendons and gore in a very disturbing manner. Larry Fila's wife Cindy was the first to go after the guy while others attended Randy as you mentioned. She came to his table where he sat holding a beer and the penknife, and started cursing the guy out and saying 'look what this maniac did to our friend.' He got up and and threw his beer before being subdued by Petr Bek and one of the Philly guys who were herding him into the wall with sturdy wooden chairs. Frank Menschner actually tagged him with two thick beer glasses on either side of the head and he stopped struggling. Another of the Philly guys broke a glass at his feet which shattered glass up into his face.
The ambulance was there in 15 minutes. We didn't get on the road right away and we did wait for another 15 minutes once Randy was splinted and loaded onto the wagon. We waited not because of the money, but because Randy's passport was at the hotel: The paramedic told me that with proper ID, the paperwork can be done before the patient gets to the hospital, he will move directly into the operating room when he arrives (Which we did). He noted that the cut was stabilized and that it wasn't as dangerous as it looked, adding the longer Randy held up his hand before the operation, the better as the blood would all be drained. The sad thing about this is that the Czechs are not good about explaining things and everyone was miffed. We wanted to get on the road and the whole thing with the money was wierd and repeated again in the pre-op room when we couldn't find Randy's insurance card. Billy Curtis ended up paying the 1,500 Crowns for the ambulance ride, but we found out that Randy's insurance would have covered that. The hospital assured us that Billy's 1,500 would be paid out along with the cost of the operation and hospital stay from Randy's insurance company.
It was a very surreal scene at the hospital when we had to see this heinous bastard getting treated in the next room over, but at least he was cuffed and had a four police escort. Prague has only one emergency room late night so such bizarre situations can arise. This added to the unease felt by the players, and I understand why he (Bill Curtis) decided to pull Rebel out of the tournament. I think hindsight, hard work and the Czechs desire to be a world class venue will prove fears about the future of the international game and lacrosse travel a bit pessimistic and unfounded. Americans should never let the actions of one deranged madman dictate where we go. That Randy had to suffer for us to reach a new level of vigilance is indeed a tragedy, but the rest of us are perhaps lucky that the guy didn't do something worse and we are now more aware.
I'm sure official apologies and statements will be forthcoming from the town, sport club and tourny organizers. For now, I'd like to offer my own personal apologies and regrets to all who've suffered from this senseless and ridiculous attack, particularly Randy and the members of Rebel who had what's become their tournament forever tainted. We hope for Randy's full and speedy recovery and hope lacrosse people around the world will, in fact, recognize the need for and benefit from the increased security at international lacrosse events his attack will necessitate.