Community gathers to support assault victim
Aug. 2, 2014 at 5:45 p.m.
Henry Karnowski liked to have a drink in the Pan American Golf Association lounge, where he met the manager, Lupe Sandoval. The two crossed paths regularly and became friends.
Sandoval was severely beaten by a Victoria man in April, and Karnowski's wife planned to purchase to-go barbecue plates at Sandoval's benefit Saturday. The long line in the Catholic War Veterans Hall prompted her to do otherwise.
She pulled money from her purse and laid it on the table between Sandoval and his wife, Michelle Sandoval.
"I'm so sorry it happened," she said to them. "God is good. Call us if you need anything."
Gilbert Galvan, Sandoval's good friend, pool league teammate and benefit barbecue organizer, collected money to purchase 2,000 chicken leg quarters for the event.
A team of more than 10 men began barbecuing the chicken legs outside the hall at 5 a.m., with pits being fired up even earlier than that. Volunteers packed bags with bread, onions and pickles a night earlier.
More than 1,000 plates with two chicken legs, beans, rice and trimmings were sold for $7 each to help the Sandovals.
Galvan described Sandoval as a good pool player and a better friend.
"He gets along with everybody," Galvan said. "Some take it so serious, but he likes to have a good time."
Galvan described a scenario when Sandoval grabbed his pool stick and stomped out of the hall in a huff.
"I don't have to play with this team," Sandoval announced.
"What'd you do to him?" the other guys asked Galvan.
"Ah, he's just going to smoke a cigarette," Galvan responded.
Sandoval laughed as he re-entered the hall through another door, Galvan said.
"He was different the first month - not the Lupe I knew," Galvan said. "But now, he's back - the same old guy."
Sandoval was attacked during an early morning stop at a convenience store on East Rio Grande Street. A man known for roaming the streets of Victoria, Marlin "Pepper" Adams has been arrested in connection with the assault.
A helicopter transported him from Citizens Medical Center to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, where doctors were shocked his injuries were the result of an assault. The blunt force trauma resembled injuries seen with patients admitted after hitting windshields and steering wheels in automobile accidents.
"What did they do to him?" Michelle Sandoval said doctors asked her.
The doctors repaired Lupe Sandoval's broken jaw, and they cut open his head to remove the bone puncturing his brain. They pieced together the fractured forehead bones and used a few fragments to replace the bone smashed beyond repair under his left eye.
As Michelle Sandoval waited in the hospital to see her husband after his surgery, she received a call that her mother had died. And before her husband was released from the hospital several weeks later, she was forced to return home alone to have diverticulitis surgery at Citizens Medical Center.
"It was a lot of tragedy all at once," she said. "But the amount of blessings we have far outweighs any tragedy."
Michelle Sandoval credits God for taking care of them through the help of friends and family.
Lupe Sandoval wonders whether the pain in his jaw is going to end, and he awaits more surgeries on his eye. His vision is still blurry, but he is optimistic that doctors can restore his eyesight.
"I owe a lot to my wife for everything she went through," Lupe Sandoval said. "People need to know she is a strong woman - unbelievable."