Armagh student Natasha McShane (pictured) and her friend Stacy Jurich were brutally beaten and left for dead in Bucktown.

Natasha McShane (28) and Stacy Jurich (29) have been presented with an award for courage from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. The Irish student and her friend survived a brutal baseball attack at the hands of Heriberto Viramontes, five years ago.
 
Accepting the award Jurich said, “It’s hard to face the person that tried to kill you, but you should do it, because you’re saving lives going forward, making sure they’re not there anymore.”
 
McShane did not attend the ceremony. She was beaten around the head and neck with a baseball bat and suffered serious brain injuries. Due to her injuries, and an infection that followed, McShane is confined to a wheelchair and has limited communication abilities. She lives with her parents in Silverbridge, County Armagh.

Two years after attack, Natasha McShane cannot speak or walk

Two years after attack, Natasha McShane cannot speak or walk


 
The two friends were attacked under a viaduct, in Bucktown, Chicago, as they walked home together after a night out. At the time of the assault McShane was a 23-year-old graduate student attending the University of Illinois. The friends were out celebrating McShane’s internship extension in an area of Chicago popular with young adults. They were walking to Jurich’s apartment at 3am when they were robbed and attacked.
 
Her mother, Sheila McShane spoke at the court hearing in 2014. Reading out her victim impact statement she said of her daughter, "She is still alive, but it feels as if we lost her and that's a scar that will never heal. As Natasha's parents, we feel as if we are rearing our 27-year-old daughter all over again."
 
She continued, "One thing is for certain, Natasha will have a life sentence of her own. A life sentence of pain, misery and unfulfillment."
 
She said McShane’s condition is improving and her daughter has “started to string three of four words together that make sense.” Her mother said she is also regaining use of her right hand.
 

Their attacker, Viramontes, received the highest sentencing possible, 90 years in prison, for his violent crimes. He will serve two consecutive sentences of 25 years for the attempted murder of McShane, 25 years for the attempted murder of Jurich, 20 years for armed robbery, and 20 years for causing great bodily harm.

Jurich’s bravery and wherewithal was highlighted at the ceremony on Wednesday. On the night of the attack the Chicago native managed to tend to her friend, flag down a taxi for help and tell the police vital information before she lost consciousness.

North Damon Avenue in Chicago where the attack on Natasha McShane (pictured inset) took place

North Damon Avenue in Chicago where the attack on Natasha McShane (pictured inset) took place

Testifying in October 2013 Jurich said, "I heard my head being hit and I felt excruciating pain. And I lost my equilibrium."

"I saw Natasha being hit on the head."

She continued, "She was not moving on the ground. The blood started coming out of her head. I took my jacket and supported her head as much as I could. And I ran for help."

McShane and Jurich also had some more good news to share. Next September McShane will be Jurich’s maid of honor at her wedding in Ireland.
 
Jurich told CBS “She was very, very excited about it and is looking forward for us to get all dolled up and have a wonderful time.”