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Random attack turns Paris vacation into nightmare for South King family

by Staff

PARIS — A family with ties to Covington and South King County is clinging on to hope after their loved one – 21-year-old Justin Han – was brutally, and apparently randomly, attacked in Paris while on vacation.

The attack left Han in a coma in the ICU at Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital.

His mom, Mimi Yang, says their family lived in Covington and most of his extended family is still in Western Washington.

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“We have family in Kent, Federal Way, Bellevue,” Yang said.

Now, the entire family is praying and hoping Justin Han will be able to pull through and come home.

Han currently lives in Arizona. While growing up, he fell in love with fashion and design. His mom says his dream trip was to the fashion capitol of the world.

“It’s been a years’ long dream of his to visit Paris,” Yang said. “Justin worked hard, saved money.”

But his first night there, Yang says her son was exploring when he was brutally attacked by a stranger on Feb. 23.

“As far as I understand, it was physical force,” she said. “He hit his head on the ground as well. But even after he was down, the assailant continued to attack and punch him,” Yang said.

Yang said before she found out about the attack, she waited three days to hear an update from her son.

“I grew very concerned because it’s uncharacteristic of him to not check in with me,” she said. Then, she got a call from the U.S. Embassy.

“They told me he was in the intensive care unit in a coma,” Yang said. “I had to grab ahold of the wall.”

She immediately called her brother in the UK to rush to Justin.

“Because I thought in the event my son died, I didn’t want him to be alone,” she said.

The next morning, Yang made it to Paris and says despite knowing her son was in a coma, seeing him bruised, bandaged, with tubes everywhere, was a gut punch.

“There’s nothing worse than to see your child in that state,” Yang said, emotional.

Now two weeks after the attack, Han is awake and starting to respond. He’s keeping food down and able to recognize his mother.

“In his delirium, more than once, he thinks we’re in Seattle,” Yang said.  But instead, Han is stuck across an ocean in a hospital bed.

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Another family member, Kat Kim, set up a GoFundMe for Han to help with his mounting international medical expenses. There, the family found much more than donations.

“One donor said something really beautiful. She said that a stranger may have committed this horrendous act, but there are so many other strangers who are here to support,” Kim said.

“When I found out about the GoFundMe and the people who just — their generosity pouring in – their kind words and the prayer – it just lifted my spirit in ways that I never thought it could after such a tragedy,” Yang said through tears.

There is no timeline for when Han might be able to come home, but Yang says especially seeing so much support – “How can you not have hope?” she said.

The family reports that Paris police recovered video evidence of the assault and arrested the suspect, who is a French citizen.  It’s not clear what the motive was for the attack.

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