Mayor honors Service stabbing victim, rescuers

February 10, 2010 

Her lung had been punctured. The blade had come impossibly close to severing the artery in her neck -- to murdering her.

Seventeen-year-old Lory Miebs was on the ground, more than 70 wounds bleeding onto the white snow outside Service High School as police swarmed the area in a massive manhunt for the suspect, her 16-year-old former boyfriend.

But she was still conscious. She knew she needed to survive.

"When I was laying out on the snow I remembered how to stay out of shock was to keep cold, so I was putting snow on my wounds and just throwing snow on me," Miebs said Wednesday, speaking publicly for the first time since the Dec. 7 attack.

Critically injured, Miebs was hospitalized for a week after the attack to be treated for stab wounds to her head, neck, back, arms and legs. Court documents filed the day after the stabbing said Miebs had been stabbed 29 times. But Miebs said Wednesday it was actually much higher: She had 76 wounds.

Small bandages still dotted her face and neck at a meeting Wednesday in which Mayor Dan Sullivan presented her and several rescuers who came to her aid with certificates of recognition.

One injury to her neck, still covered with a bandage, came dangerously close to claiming her life, she said.

"The most miracle one was the one in the neck," Miebs said. "It went beside and behind the carotid artery and it went around the vocal cords. It went beside the esophagus and the doctor told me, 'Even if you were an expert guided by a scope, it would be really hard to make that kind of a cut.' "

According to prosecutors, Miebs' former boyfriend, Nick Chamberlain, lured her out of school during lunch that day with the promise of a silver ring. In the woods behind the school, he told her to close her eyes and lift her head while he performed a "magic trick," according to court documents.

Then he plunged a 2- 1/2 inch blade into her neck in a vicious attack that didn't end when Miebs tried to run away, nor when she begged for her life, not even when the blade bent against her skull, prosecutors allege. Chamberlain put that blade away and opened a saw blade, continuing to stab her, according to prosecutors.

Only after others realized what was going on and tried to intervene did Chamberlain stop with what prosecutors allege was his plan to kill Miebs.

"Ken Schulz is the skier who came to her aid that day, risking his own safety to break up and ultimately stop the attack," Sullivan said in presenting the certificates Wednesday. "His actions as well as those of Araya Flowers were the definition of heroic and without question saved Ms. Miebs' life."

Flowers, a Service student, said she was with her friend Zach Sebwenna nearby on a trail when they heard a commotion that day. They didn't know Miebs personally, though they'd seen her around.

"At first we just thought it was people playing around," Flowers said Wednesday. "Then it started sounding serious so we went over to see what it was and that's when Zach pulled Nick (Chamberlain) off of her."

Chamberlain, however, didn't plan on stopping, prosecutors say. He went at them, cursing, as Miebs tried to run away. Chamberlain chased her down and again began stabbing, according to prosecutors.

Flowers said they got the attention of Schulz, who was skiing nearby. He called 911 and went to the commotion to find Miebs on the bloody snow and the attacker stabbing her. Schulz kicked him off the girl, prompting the assailant to turn on him, slashing twice with the knife and spattering his glasses with blood.

Schulz backed off and Chamberlain turned his attention back to the girl, stabbing her some more before taking off down the ski trail, according to court documents.

Chamberlain was arrested about an hour later. He was indicted on charges of attempted murder, first- and third-degree assault and tampering with evidence. He remains in custody at the Anchorage jail with a trial scheduled to begin in March.

Schulz on Wednesday wasn't so sure about being called a hero. He said he thinks Miebs, whom he's gotten to know since the attack, has a survivor's attitude and that her own actions saved her life.

"She was off the trail when she was attacked and her glasses were immediately knocked off," Schulz said. She "got herself out of there, despite being followed and stabbed repeatedly along the way. Getting onto the trail without your glasses -- it would have been, I think, real easy to have gotten very, very disoriented at that point, but she got herself on the trail and back to school."

Said Anchorage School District Superintendent Carol Comeau, "Lory, your spirit is amazing."

Miebs said she was excited to get back to school after the attack. She returned after the winter break. The other kids greeted her with hugs, she said.

She's still in physical therapy for injuries to her left hand and shoulder, which were pierced by the folding knife. She expects to make a full recovery.

"I did learn a little bit about myself and others," she said, "mostly that you can fight your way out of anything if you actually try."

Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.

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