The family of an LDS pharmacy student who was violently slashed in the face and throat in an unprovoked attack by a man wielding a box cutter has expressed gratitude for all those who helped save her life.
Near 7 p.m. on July 3, Whitnie Sullivan, 21, was walking into the Walgreens pharmacy in Erie, Pennsylvania, to begin her extra shift. Near the front doors, a man approached her before unexpectedly attacking her with a box cutter. Sullivan sustained cuts on her face, throat, and arms, with the laceration near her jaw slashing all the way down to the bone, according to the family's Facebook updates.
About the attack, Wiggins told St. George News, “She looked up and smiled at the guy. He didn’t say anything to her and then she looked back down to see where she was going and he just lunged at her.”
A bystander quickly rushed to help Sullivan, scaring off her attacker. “He’s probably the reason she’s alive," Wiggins said. Sullivan's family also posted updates on social media about a "mystery woman" who held Sullivan's head while they waited for first responders to arrive, helping her calm down and breathe even while she tried to stem the blood. The woman, Melody, and her daughter later visited Sullivan in the hospital.
No main arteries were cut, but Sullivan's sister, Ashley Wiggins, says "Whitnie is a walking miracle. The surgeon says that the cut across her neck was only 2 mm away from killing her," Wiggins writes on Go Fund Me. "She continues to smile through everything. She is expected to make a full recovery but it will take time."
The 30-year-old man accused of attacking Sullivan has a history of mental illness, including "a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder and has experienced hallucinations, paranoid thinking and 'a host of temporary symptoms of psychosis,'" according to goerie.com. Wiggins wrote on Facebook that one of Sullivan's co-workers reported the man walking into the store after the attack, "staring out the window at the people helping her and said over and over, 'I can't believe I just did that.'"
On Sunday, July 8, Sullivan's father, Shane Sullivan, told Erie News Now, "From the surgeons to the nurses and everybody, we just can't thank everybody enough." The Sullivan family on social media continually thanks those who have been praying for their sister and daughter, knowing those prayers have helped in her speedy recovery.