Detective: Victim had 'some brain activity,' but still in critical condition

Cary Ashby • Apr 25, 2013 at 9:07 PM

The Dayton-area victim of a crowbar-related assault remains in critical condition, contrary to previous reports.

Austin D. Thornton, 19, of St. Paris, is in the neuro-intensive care unit of Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo.

Huron County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Josh Querin said he spoke to officials at the Toledo hospital by phone Wednesday afternoon and said the Dayton-area victim remains in critical condition. A hospital spokeswoman confirmed that information later with the Reflector.

A story published Wednesday indicated a hospital employee said Thornton's condition had been upgraded to serious as of Tuesday night.

"He's still in critical condition. He's not stable by any means," Querin said. "They did see some brain activity when they tested him, which is a good sign."

Querin said there have been Facebook posts by Thornton's family indicating he was in stable condition, but the detective said the relatives may have misunderstood what nurses and doctors told them.

"The nurse who was taking care of him said he could go either way," Querin said.

When asked to elaborate, the detective said that means Thornton's health could improve or get worse.

Thornton's girlfriend called 9-1-1 on the way to Mercy Willard Hospital. A LifeFlight helicopter later transported the victim to Mercy St. Vincent.

"My boyfriend just got hit with a tire iron. This kid jumped him," the girlfriend told a dispatcher.

The dispatcher later asked the caller how Thornton was doing.

"No, he's not OK at all," the girlfriend said. "No. ... He's non-comprehensive -- nothing."

Tyler G. Smith, 19, of 223 Hamilton St., Bellevue, is accused of hitting Thornton in the head with a crowbar, authorities said. He is charged with attempted murder and must post a $500,000 bond before being released from the Huron County Jail.

Smith's suspected accomplice, Connor C.D. Holbrook, 19, of 840 Kilbourne St., Bellevue, is charged with felonious assault, a second-degree felony. He must post a $100,000 bond before being released from custody.

Holbrook is accused of driving Smith to and from the Peru Township crime scene, knowing Smith reportedly had the crowbar with him and intended to cause the victim serious physical harm, authorities said. Prosecutors have said Smith could be charged with murder and Holbrook could face complicity to murder if the victim dies.

"He (Thornton) was in the area visiting friends," Querin said.

When asked if the victim knew his suspected attackers, Querin said, "It's fair to say they knew each other, but not for a very long time."

Smith and Holbrook have preliminary hearings scheduled for Wednesday. If they waive their right to have the state present evidence, their cases will be transferred to Huron County Common Pleas Court for a possible grand jury indictment.

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