Pendleton attack victim in induced coma

August 27, 2013 

— The husband of a woman found beaten along a trail in Pendleton says she will have a lot of relearning to do once she’s out of an induced coma, and she faces many uncertainties recovering from severe brain damage.

For instance, doctors don’t know if Karen Lange will be able to sing as she has while leading the music program at Pendleton Free Methodist Church.

She has also done solo performances and played pump organ as part of a quartet during the Pendleton Round-Up, and she has been a member of the Oregon East Symphony and Chorale.

“Music, for her, was a lifelong expression to God,”?her husband, Dan Lange, told the East Oregonian. “It’s a little foreign to me because I had to work so hard to make it good. And to her, it just came so naturally.”

An attacker beat her on the right side of the head with a length of galvanized pipe on Aug. 9. Police have named a transient as a person of interest, but they haven’t been able to confirm the man’s identity or locate him.

Police also say DNA at the scene of the attack matched that found at the scene of the killing of a teenage girl last year in Pendleton.

Lange said his wife has made progress: She has briefly opened both her eyes, and the left eye is open often and reacts to talking in the room. Doctors said she could wake up as soon as this week.

Dan Lange is vice president of instruction at Blue Mountain Community College and has spent much of the last two weeks in Portland at the Oregon Health & Science University hospital.

An OHSU neurologist said last week Karen Lange will have a full and functional recovery, and her husband said that means she will have to work to retain that full functionality.

“She’s got to take the left side of her brain and fill in the gaps the right side doesn’t have,” Lange said.

It’s still unknown if — and how much — she will be different once she wakes from the coma, he said.

“I don’t worry about it,” he said. “I don’t have anxiety, but I do hope she remembers me.”

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