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Battered Natasha McShane able to speak again after Chicago attack

A student left fighting for her life after a brutal attack in Chicago has spoken her first words since the assault.

Natasha McShane was beaten with a baseball bat by two attackers as she returned home from a night out with a friend on April 23.

Friends of the family said Natasha, from Silverbridge in Co Armagh, can now speak the odd word and smile — but the road to recovery will be a long one.

Her father Liam McShane said: “She can only whisper to us. There are good days when she speaks, then days when she doesn't. We need a miracle, please pray for her.”

Natasha is still listed as being in a very serious condition and remains in intensive care.

She spent three weeks in a medically-induced coma and first opened her eyes on May 7.

The UCD graduate travelled to Chicago to study urban planning and public affairs at the University of Illinois.

A man and a woman, Heriberto Viramontes (30) and Marcy Cruz (25), have been arrested and charged with attempted murder.

The pair were initially charged with aggravated battery and armed robbery.

Natasha’s friend Stacy Zurich was also injured in the assault but was released from hospital a short time later.

She has attended charity events for her friend after a fund was set up in the US to raise money for Natasha’s medical treatment and the expenses of her family who flew to be at her bedside.

A fundraising night will be held in Chicago tonight, where guests will include Chicago Mayor Richard M Daley and Sheriff Thomas J Dart. The city will also hold a fundraising day on June 13.

Closer to home, fundraising events are planned in Newry and Belfast.

Natasha’s grandmother Bernadette McShane spoke to the Belfast Telegraph two weeks ago about the family’s desperate vigil.

“I’m not giving up on Natasha, if anybody will pull through, she will,” she said.

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