Dewald Van der Merwe felt like his heart had been ripped out of his chest when police told him his younger brother had been stabbed in downtown Kamloops.
“It’s such an awful feeling,” Dewald told KTW, adding he got the call the morning after the attack while at work, with Mounties telling him right away his brother was in stable condition.
Since then, the 32-year-old launched a GoFundMe campaign to try to lift the spirits of his brother, Yuki Van der Merwe, by raising enough funds to buy him a new mountain bike after his was apparently stolen in the March 31 attack.
As of Tuesday, the fundraiser had raised $7,492 — well above its $5,000 goal.
Yuki, 30, was attacked in an alleyway in the 600-block of Victoria Street in downtown Kamloops that evening and was treated for life-threatening injuries at Royal Inland Hospital.
He spent about three days in the intensive-care unit and was able to leave RIH on April 8 to recover at home, Dewald told KTW.
Dewald said his brother was stabbed seven times.
Yuki Van der Merwe is on the mend after being stabbed seven times on March 31. He posted this photo to his Instagram page this week after enjoying a walk. - Yuki Van der Merwe/Instagram
Kamloops RCMP said officers responded to an assault with a weapon call in the area of Victoria Street and Sixth Avenue at about 6:22 p.m. on March 31 and received a complaint of two men fighting behind a business in the 600-block of Victoria Street about 15 minutes earlier.
Police believe both incidents involved the same individuals.
According to Dewald, his brother had left his parents’ house, where he resides, and gone downtown for a bike ride when he was attacked.
“All I know is he was going out for a bike ride,” Dewald said, adding police and the family believe the mountain bike — red and orange in colour, with white rims and black tires — was likely stolen at some point in the altercation.
Dewald said he doesn’t think his brother knew his attacker, but he added Yuki hasn’t disclosed much and can’t seem to recall exactly what happened.
“Traumatic things like this, police say, memory sometimes doesn’t come back,” Dewald said.
“My brother can remember a bit before and a bit after, but that traumatic event has kind of skewed his memory a bit. He was even confused about some of the details as to what happened,” Dewald said.
Dewald said footage of the incident collected by police shows his brother standing on his feet, but his bike is not in view.
“He wasn’t on his bike when he was attacked,” Dewald said.
At this point, Kamloops RCMP do not believe the incident was a random attack.
“If you get in an altercation with somebody, you don’t necessarily know their name or their birthdate, but it’s not random, either,” Kamloops RCMP Const. Crystal Evelyn told KTW.
Asked if there is a public safety risk given the details of the incident, Evelyn said the public isn’t believed to be at risk because the attack wasn’t random.
Evelyn said she could not get into specifics as police are still investigating the case.
She said there have been no arrests or suspects identified, noting the victim is no longer co-operating with the investigation.
Officers, a police dog unit and forensics teams were among the responders who collected and searched for evidence following the stabbing.
Police tape could be seen strewn between an alleyway behind 601 Lansdowne St. and 612 Victoria St., where an apartment building is being constructed at the corner of Victoria and Sixth.
Anyone with information regarding the investigation is asked to contact police at 250-828-3000 and reference file 2021-9982.
Mounties are hoping to obtain surveillance video or dash-cam footage from anyone who in the area downtown between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on March 31.
Dewald said his brother, who works for a construction company, is expected to make a full recovery, but it will be a long road ahead, noting Yuki won’t be able to do any physical labour for at least two months.
“He’s a pretty tough kid,” Dewald said of his younger brother.
Though it will be a while before his brother can ride a bike again, he said it’s something Yuki is looking forward to doing.
“His passion is for biking and, for him, getting into a life-threatening situation like this puts things into perspective,” Dewald said.
Dewald said he felt it difficult to ask for the financial support in buying another bike, but noted Kamloops is a supportive community.
Yuki and Dewald are the sons of Errol Van der Merwe, who was a family physician in Merritt for a number of years and currently does some work in Kamloops.
Dewald is a teacher at NorKam secondary, which was placed on a lockdown as a result of a threat against the school the same day his brother was attacked.
“It was just one thing to the next,” Dewald said. “It was stressful.”
Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week