'I died a thousand deaths,' says dad of Standing Rock protester as doctors work to save her arm

A 21-year-old woman was seriously injured and airlifted to Minneapolis after a confrontation Sunday between North Dakota authorities and people opposed to the Dakota Access pipeline.

North Dakota authorities shot tear gas canisters into the crowd and steadily sprayed a water cannon on a night when the temperature dropped as low as –3 C.

According to the woman’s father, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others, Sophia Wilansky, originally from New York, was airlifted to Minneapolis after suffering an injury to her arm.

“There are no words to describe the pain of watching my daughter cry and say she was sorry for the pain she caused me and my wife,” her father, Wayne Wilansky, wrote in a statement issued Tuesday morning.

“I died a thousand deaths today and will continue to do so for quite some time.”

Cause disputed

There are conflicting accounts about what specifically caused the injury. 

According to a statement from the tribe, Wilansky “sustained severe injuries to her arm when a concussion grenade blew part of her arm away.” Her father also claims she was injured from a concussion grenade tossed directly from a member of law enforcement.

However, the Morton Country Sheriff’s Department denies this, telling The Associated Press that the injury was caused by a small propane tank “rigged to explode” by demonstrators.

Over $ 160K raised in 15 hours

According to the Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council, a volunteer organization that provides medical aid to people in the Standing Rock area, doctors in Minneapolis are working to save Wilansky’s arm, but there’s a fear it may have to be amputated.

Graphic photos circulating on social media show that flesh was torn from the bones.

A spokesperson from the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis would only say that Wilansky is in “serious” condition.

Wilansky GoFundMe

A GoFundMe campaign to pay for Sophia Wilansky’s medical bills raised over $ 90,000 US in just four hours on Monday. The tally is now over $ 160,000. (CBC)

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page set up for Wilansky’s medical bills raised over $ 160,000 US in around 15 hours.

The person who launched the campaign wrote that Wilansky is an activist from New York who was working with groups like NYC Shut It Down and Hoods4Justice before travelling to North Dakota to support the Standing Rock Sioux’s fight against the pipeline.

“Sophia was giving out bottles of water to protectors holding down the space when she was shot with a concussion grenade,” the GoFundMe page stated.

300 injured

The Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council said about 300 people were injured — 26 of them seriously. The wounded were treated on the site of the conflict or at a community centre on the reservation before being sent to three area hospitals.

The group issued a news release that says some of the injured included an elderly person who lost consciousness but was revived, a woman with an injured eye caused by a rubber bullet and a young man who vomited blood.

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CBC | World News