Assault victim’s brothers serve in Iraq |

Assault victim’s brothers serve in Iraq

Dan Harkins’ oldest son – the one who didn’t join the Marines and should have been safe – is clinging to life in a hospital bed, while two of his younger sons are risking their lives in Iraq.

“What’s wrong with this picture?” Dan Harkins said Tuesday. His younger sons “chose to do what they did because they love their country, and they want us to be able to raise children in a safe place. This shows them right now that it’s not (safe here). It’s a sad thing when our own streets aren’t safe anymore.”

Harkins’ oldest son, Josh Harkins, 25, was assaulted Friday at Condon Park skate park in Grass Valley as he tried to stop a group of young men from urinating on another young man who was lying on the ground during a fight.

Witnesses said Patrick Cronan, 20, attacked Harkins from behind and hit him in the side of the head with the trucks of his skateboard.

Josh Harkins has been in critical condition since Friday with a partially shattered skull, hospital officials and family said.

He has awakened a few times, his family said, but he becomes startled, tugs at his breathing tube and causes additional bleeding in his brain.

Doctors induced a medical coma to allow time for healing, Dan Harkins said.

Someday, Harkins may need cosmetic surgery on his ear, the top of which was nearly sliced off by the blow to his head.

Josh Harkins’ 14-year-old brother and 13-year-old sister witnessed the assault. Dan Harkins is considering getting them counseling for the trauma.

His other sons are Thomas, 21, who has been serving since April, and Eric, 20, who has been in Iraq since February.

“Both these young men are aware of what has happened to their older brother, yet they are still going out on patrols, trying to stay focused,” said Heidi Wilcox, a Nevada City resident. Her son, Chris, is a friend of Thomas and Eric Harkins.

“Here we have a family worried about the well being of the sons they have serving in Iraq, yet look what has happened in their own backyard,” Wilcox said.

Assailant convicted of burglary

Cronan was convicted last month of burglary.

He was responsible for breaking into Grass Valley restaurants Miner Moe’s Pizza and Subway Sandwiches and Salads in early March, said Grass Valley Police Capt. Dave Remillard.

Nevada County Judge Julie McManus sentenced Cronan on May 24 to three days in jail and three years of probation. He also is required to pay restitution to his victims.

Cronan previously was arrested by Grass Valley police in July 2006 for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana; the charge was dismissed on Sept. 25, 2006.

After Friday’s assault, police arrested Cronan at his job in downtown Grass Valley, police said.

Cronan was booked into Wayne Brown Correctional Facility in lieu of $10,000 bail. After reviewing the case, the District Attorney’s Office raised the bail amount to $75,000.

Cronan is charged with assault with a deadly weapon and battery with serious bodily injury.

He had appeared in front of a judge Monday for a scheduled arraignment, but he declined the services of a public defender and said he wanted to seek his own counsel.

Cronan, who remained in custody late Tuesday, is scheduled for another court hearing at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Nevada County Superior Court.

Donations collected

Dan Harkins said he will not let his outrage get the best of him, and he has told his son’s friends to refrain from acts of vengeance.

“We’re trying to let the law take its course,” Harkins said. “We have to set a precedent. I just want justice to be served.”

Harkins said he is confident the state’s Victim Compensation Program will pay for a majority of his son’s medical expenses.

Josh Harkins’ friends and co-workers at Citizens Restaurant in Nevada City have distributed donation bins at businesses throughout the county. Those donations will be used for medical expenses, to help compensate for Harkins’ lost wages and the pay to care for his dog.

Friends also are planning a fundraiser and will announce the date later.

Donations can be sent to the Harkins Family, 111 Bank Street #205, Grass Valley, CA 95945.

“We’re all praying for him,” Dan Harkins said.


To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail or call 477-4236.

How to help

Donations for assault victim Joshua Harkins’ medical expenses and compensation for his time away from work can be sent to:

The Harkins Family

111 Bank Street # 205

Grass Valley, Ca. 95945

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