Habibullah Ahmad of Windsor Charged in Brutal Unprovoked Attack on 75-Year-Old Woman
The shocking weekend assault of a 75-year-old woman left her with head injuries so terrible that the surgeon who treated her says they’re among the worst he’s seen in his medical career in Windsor.
“In my 12 years in Windsor, this is the most severe beating I’ve seen,” said Dr. Balraj Jhawar, a neurosurgeon at the Ouellette Campus of Windsor Regional Hospital.
Sara Anne Widholm, a grandmother and Riverside resident, remained in critical condition Tuesday afternoon.
She has not awakened since she was found unconscious and battered on the Ganatchio Trail east of Riverdale Avenue and Little River on Sunday morning.
Speaking to the Star with the permission of Widholm’s family, Jhawar detailed a long list of damage.
She was brought to the hospital suffering from multiple brain hemorrhages, a blood clot on the surface of her brain that was immediately threatening her life, extensive skull fractures, fractured vertebrae in her neck, a lacerated scalp, and a badly bruised face.
“The worst skull fractures I’ve seen in my 12 years here in Windsor,” Jhawar repeated.
“I’ve submitted pictures to Windsor police. This is among the most brutal things I’ve seen in my career. … Her eyes were so bruised, they were swollen shut.”
Widholm’s emergency treatment required two major surgical procedures — one taking five hours, the other three hours.
The outcome remains uncertain. “She is improving — but she is not out of the woods by any means,” Jhawar said Tuesday at noon.
“I believe she will survive. I think we’re winning here. I think she has made some progress in the last 24 hours. I’m not anticipating any more surgery. But anything can happen.”
Jhawar said he is speaking publicly about the case because he believes the community needs to know.
He was told by Widholm’s family that her early-morning strolls on Ganatchio Trail are a Sunday ritual. She goes on them to pick up litter and keep the walking areas clean for others.
“This is a super good person. This is the calibre of woman we’re talking about here,” Jhawar said. “She goes around cleaning up other people’s garbage, out of the goodness of her heart.”
Windsor police are acknowledging the extreme nature of this unprovoked assault in a popular park area.
“This was, without a doubt, a vicious, vicious attack,” Windsor police spokesman Sgt. Steve Betteridge said Tuesday.
“It’s very alarming to see an attack of this nature, at that time of day, at that location.”
Windsor resident Habibullah Ahmad, 21, who goes by the first name Daniel, has been charged with one count of aggravated assault. He remained in custody at press time.
Aggravated assault is an indictable offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. It carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
It isn’t yet clear what led to the one-sided altercation. Police said Tuesday that the incident “appears to be random in nature.”
Betteridge credited witnesses for contacting police as soon as they noticed something was wrong – allowing for an immediate emergency response and quick launching of an investigation.
“That, quite possibly, saved this 75-year-old victim’s life,” Betteridge said.
Jhawar said it’s his understanding that Windsor police arrested the 21-year-old suspect due in part to information provided by a 17-year-old companion of the accused.
“We don’t know exactly what occurred,” Jhawar said.
As for the random nature of the crime, Jhawar said he finds that “absolutely unacceptable” — and so should everyone else in the community.
“For all of us who live here in Windsor, we can’t tolerate this. This is not just another assault,” Jhawar said.
“This is concerning to me. This is maybe representing a new, dark side of Windsor that we can’t let propagate.”
Betteridge emphasized that the incident is a statistical anomaly, and the Ganatchio Trail system is safe for public use.
“This is an extremely rare occurrence,” he said.
The investigation into the attack remains open and police continue to appeal to the public for information.
Anyone who knows more about this incident or the accused is encouraged to call detectives at 519-255-6700 ext. 4830.
Anonymous tips can be made via Crime Stoppers at 519-258-8477 or www.catchcrooks.com.
Widholm is a member of Riverside Baptist Church. Jhawar said other church members have been providing crucial moral support to Widholm’s husband and family.
Widholm’s children live around the world — Alabama, New York and Sweden. Jhawar said Widholm’s son from Alabama arrived in Windsor on Tuesday.
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