Lake Stevens man stabbed while helping othersGranite Falls police catch the suspect BY PAM STEVENS | EDITOR How many times have we heard about someone getting mugged or robbed while others standby, watching and not wanting to get involved? How many of us would run toward a screaming woman instead of away from her?
Lucky for us, there is one man here in Lake Stevens who is still willing to risk his safety, and even his life, to help someone in need.
Justin Berg, a 30-year-old father of three had just moved back to Lake Stevens after living in Idaho for the past year and a half. Berg hadjust started a new job at the Granite Falls Red Apple Grocery Store two-and-a-half months ago and was hitting his 90-day mark when his health insurance would kick in.
Early morning on Saturday, March 8, Berg and his co-worker John, saw three men prowling the parking lot and kicking John’s truck. They told them to leave the property, which they did.
A few minutes later Berg heard the woman working at the Shell Gas Station next door yelling for help. Without hesitation Berg ran to help the woman, passing the three boys.
Berg said that he got what felt like a wild punch under his left arm and then again in his stomach from one of the men.
Minutes later Berg realized the man had stabbed him and that he was bleeding.
His co-worker called 911.
“Officers responded to a fight in progress and found a 30-year-old male with two stab wounds,” Granite Falls Police Chief Tony Domish said.
Berg was transported to Harborview Hospital by ambulance while Granite Falls and Lake Stevens Police along with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office searched for the suspects.
The suspects were later found hiding in a residence. Two were 17-year-old boys and the suspected stabber is an 18-year-old male. He has been charged with one count of assault in the first degree.
While Berg was being transported to the hospital his first thought was the well-being of the woman.
“Justin was intubated, so he couldn’t speak very well,” his mother Rosemary Smith explains. “Woman okay? was the first thing he asked.”
While Smith waited for news from the doctors she realized that she was mad, scared and proud all at the same time.
“I raised him to help other people,” she said with a smile.
Doctors at Harborview were surprised that they didn’t find more internal damage.
“The surgeons thought the internal organs had just moved out of the way,” Smith said. “The one above the bellybutton just missed a major artery and his pancreas and the one under his left arm went up through the muscle and nicked a rib. He was very lucky.”
While Berg is doing well now, he had to spend three days in ICU, five days in the hospital and had to have surgery, -- all without the luxury of health insurance. And because the assault happened off of Red Apple’s premises, he doesn’t qualify for Labor & Industries (L&I) help.
They were just getting back on their feet his mother explains, adding that Harborview does have an assistance program that will help cover part of the costs, however, his medical bills will still be hard to cover.
Berg can’t wait to go back to work and hopes to return soon, although he will be unable to lift a lot while his wounds continue to heal.
“Justin is really upbeat and has a great sense of humor,” Smith said. “He said he would do it all over again if he had to.”
Many in the community are calling Berg a hero. Girl Scout Troop 2111 have given him a Hero’s Thank-you with cards and a food basket and his sister’s fourth grade class from Mt. Pilchuck Elementary School sent him cards thanking him for being a hero and standing up to help someone else.
The Granite Falls Red Apple Grocery store is accepting donations to help Berg and his family with medical and personal expenses.
If you would like to help out please contact Red Apple Accounts Manager Eide at 360-691-1693 or you can mail in a donation to P.O. Box 69, Granite Falls, Wash. 98252.