Los Angeles

‘Our Hearts Are Heavy:’ Sandra Shells, ER Nurse Attacked Near Union Station, Dies From Injuries On Sunday

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A nurse who was attacked by a homeless man early Thurdsay morning near Union Station has died.

Sandra Shells, a nurse at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, died from the injuries she suffered from the attack, LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis announced. She was 70-years-old.

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On Sunday, neighbors of Shells’ shared their condolences after learning of her death. “She’s just a beautiful person – beautiful inside and out. It just hurts so bad, just to think about what happened to her” said Liz Anderson. “I just know she loved to help people, she loved people, and she loved to help people and I just know she, that was her life, she worked all the time.”

The hospital issued a statement on Sunday following her death. “Our hearts are heavy.”

The statement continued, mentioning her devotion to her profession and continued empathy for all patients, “Sandra Shells will forever be remembered for her compassionate care and unmatched dedication to her patients and the community throughout her 38-year career at LAC+USC. Sandra worked tirelessly and selflessly to keep her patients safe and healthy and will always be remembered as a kind, compassionate and giving nurse with a helpful and thoughtful nature, who was a favorite amongst colleagues and patients. There will never be enough words to express our gratitude for her tremendous work and dedication.”

The attack happened at about 5:10 a.m. at a bus stop at the southeast corner of Cesar Chavez and Vignes Street, according to Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo.

Shells was approached by an individual, who was initially described as a transient. He reportedly slapped and pushed Shells’, who fell and hit her head, prompting her emergency transfer to the same hospital she worked at for nearly 40 years.

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After surgery, she was still reported to be in critical condition until Sunday afternoon when she succumbed to her injuries.

The man who attacked Shells was arrested, and identified as Kerry Bell, a 48-year-old homeless man. He was arrested shortly after the incident on suspicion of
assault, but his charge will be updated to suspicion of murder after Shells’ death. He reportedly has a criminal record in several states, and his bail is set at $2 million.

Anderson, also a former police officer, had a suggestion for Bell’s handling, “That man should never be allowed on the streets again – ever. He should never be out on the streets again, to do it again.”

County-USC coworkers and residents in the surrounding area issued their concerns after the incident on Thursday, detailing how unfortunately often instances like this occur – especially when it comes to public transportation.

County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who is also the Chair of Metro Los Angeles Board of Directors, issued a statement on the tragedy:

“I am devastated to learn that Sandra Shells, the LAC+USC Medical Center nurse who was attacked at a Metro bus stop a couple of days ago, has succumbed to her injuries. As a frontline essential worker, she helped save countless lives throughout the pandemic and it is a heartbreaking loss to lose a hero. As Chair of the Metro Board of Directors, I will continue to push for an enhance safety plan for riders and staff so we can prevent tragic incidents like this from happening again. I send my condolences to her family and the entire LAC+USC Medical Center community.”

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Friends and coworkers plan on holding vigils for Shells at the bus stop on Cesar Chavez and Vignes Streets on Wednesday, from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and again from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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