VANCOUVER — Fallen Canadian hero Steve Fonyo remains in a medically induced coma after being stabbed in the back and severely beaten by attackers at his Whalley home early Friday morning.
But Saturday evening, acquaintances of Fonyo reported from Royal Columbian Hospital there was an upgrade in his condition from critical to stable.
Police did not name Fonyo as the victim of the brutal attack, but Friday reported they were called to a home in the 11000-block of 136th Street and found a 49-year-old man suffering from stab wounds.
Cpl. Bert Paquet said police are sure the victim was targeted and an early investigation suggests a possible home invasion involving three suspects.
Friends, family and neighbours confirmed 49-year-old Fonyo was the stabbing victim. One friend, who did not want to be named, said Fonyo had “any number” of enemies due to his continuing involvement in low-level crime.
“This is just a really sad story, I guess this is rock bottom for him,” said a friend who talked to Fonyo several days ago and learned about his condition at Royal Columbian Hospital Saturday.
On Saturday, Fonyo’s ex-wife Lisa Greenwood was at Royal Columbian Hospital with a documentary film crew that has been following the ups and downs of Fonyo’s life, the Sunday Province was told.
The Sunday Province could not reach Greenwood for comment, but she claimed in an online message Fonyo’s “face and head (were) so swollen you couldn’t even tell it was him ... One machine was breathing for him ’cause he’s in a coma from the stab wound in his back that made one of his lungs collapse.”
A friend of Fonyo’s also told the Sunday Province Saturday Fonyo had suffered a collapsed lung. The friend said over the past week Fonyo had been upbeat about his prospects and he had been spending time with a documentary film crew shooting a story about his life.
Fonyo lost a leg to bone cancer as a child and, following his hero Terry Fox’s example, ran across Canada in 1985. He was a one-time member of the Order of Canada for his cancer fundraising efforts before drug addiction and persistent brushes with crime destroyed his reputation.
Although Fonyo was worried a power generator being used to heat his home might “blow up” due to overuse, he gave no indications that anyone was after him this week, the friend said.
Fonyo was facing a stolen automobile charge and reportedly was keeping a stolen vehicle in his driveway at the time of the attack, the friend said.
“There’s any number of people that could have wanted to hurt him,” the friend said. “His lifestyle wasn’t good, but he talked about turning things around and he was actually talking about trying to get out of Whalley, which is a pretty bad place.”
Fonyo hardly ever had money in recent years and was involved in a number of small fraud and theft schemes, according to his friend.
Paquet was asked if it is possible the stabbing victim had been a witness to any events in the targeted murder of a notorious Surrey thug in October 2014, directly across the street from Fonyo’s home.
In that case, Larry Mizen — a 6-foot-4 drug-debt enforcer who terrorized the streets of Whalley — was found dead in a basement suite.
Paquet said it is too early in this investigation to speculate on motives for the targeted stabbing.
Meanwhile, readers are pulling for Fonyo online.
“You do have lots of support Steve. You are not alone. Nobody is perfect and we all hope you pull through and turn your life around. To some your achievement of running for cancer will forever be a true shining moment for you and to all who have suffered from this terrible disease,” Jim Froome commented at theprovince.com.
Anyone with further information is asked to contact Surrey RCMP’s serious crime unit at 604-599-0502 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or www.solvecrime.ca.
— With a file from the Canadian Press