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Edzards: Life now normal as possible

Tim Omarzu
Eileen JoyceJudith Edzards hugs a friend after dedicating a bench Thursday to victims of last year's shootings at the fairgrounds.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

A year ago today, Judith Edzards was in intensive care in Sutter Roseville Medical Center.

Edzards was airlifted there after Scott Thorpe allegedly shot her once in the head, once in the shoulder and once in the chest during a shooting rampage at Nevada County’s Behavioral Health Department, where she worked as office manager.

Doctors removed a 9 mm slug from Edzard’s right temple and put the slightly

built 49-year-old into a two-week-long, drug-induced coma to reduce brain swelling.

Edzards spent almost six weeks in the hospital, where she underwent some 20 operations while family members stayed there around the clock, sleeping at night in a recreational vehicle in the hospital’s parking lot.

Today, Edzards, 50, still bears the physical and emotional scars of the shooting.

But “to not know her before, to look at her now, you wouldn’t know anything” ever happened, said Edzard’s sister, Kathy Hanlon, who served as the family’s spokesperson during the ordeal.

(Edzards declined to be interviewed by The Union. “She doesn’t feel real comfortable expressing herself,” Hanlon explained.)

Edzards hasn’t yet returned to work, but – taking her injuries into account – has pretty much resumed normal life with her husband, Darrell, on acreage the couple owns in southern Nevada County.

“She’s fixing meals, she’s doing all her routine things,” her sister said. “Her days are more normal.”

Edzards still has some memory loss, her sister said.

“There’s certain things she can recall and other things she can’t,” Hanlon said. For instance, “she felt Christmas was all new.”

Edzards also has some coordination and balance problems, “though that’s coming along really well,” Hanlon said.

Because of the bullet wound in Edzards’ right shoulder, “She’s very restricted in certain movements” with her right arm and has pain, her sister said. Edzards isn’t yet able to drive, so “that’s a great frustration for her.”

Edzards has been able to stay on leave thanks in part to co-workers donating days off and sick leave to an employee pool, and “she’s just very appreciative of that. That’s very generous of them to be giving up their own time,” Hanlon said.

While Edzards has no memory of the actual attack, it’s still a “big, emotional barrier,” her sister said. “She has not been to Nevada City since this happened.”

Prior to the shooting, Edzards had requested that bulletproof glass be installed in the waiting room of the Behavioral Health office, but “there was no written document, supposedly,” of the request, her sister said.

The family doesn’t have plans to sue, Hanlon said.

As for Thorpe, who’s been declared mentally unfit for trial, Edzards feels anger, her sister said.

“The loss of life, because of this person, yeah, there’s anger there,” Hanlon said.

One thing Edzards did this past year was go out with high school friends for a group celebration of each others’ 50th birthdays.

A sad event for the family was the death Nov. 30 of Edzards’ father, Art Newman, who moved to Nevada County in the mid-1950s and owned a 300-acre ranch on Dog Bar Road, which is still under family ownership.

“Not a great year. We’re all looking forward to 2002,” Hanlon said.

“You’ve got to move beyond all that kind of stuff and just be grateful and appreciative for Judy’s life,” she said.

When Edzards is out and about, “People who know her have remarked just how wonderful she looks and how surprised they are and grateful and happy just to see her.”

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