NewsLocal NewsAkron Canton News


'The good Lord took care of me', 85-year-old Canton man grateful for surviving brutal attack

Posted at 4:53 PM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 19:01:22-05

CANTON, Ohio — As he sat in his living room chair with broken facial bones, multiple deep bruises near his cheeks and on his neck, and 20 stitches under his nearly swollen-shut left eye, 85-year-old Ralph White smiled after a precious moment.

One of his great-granddaughters, 3-year-old Wesley Crank, walked over to him and gave him a kiss.

"Thank you," White said as the girl smiled back and walked away.

As the senior citizen continues a long and painful recovery after a vicious attack, he is standing firm on his faith.

"It's just the way I feel. The good Lord has something for me to do and I will do it for him," White said.

On Saturday night, White was driving on 8th Street NE heading to pick up his grandson when a car pulled out of a bar parking lot and collided with White's car.

White said he was unable to avoid the other vehicle. After the crash, White couldn't get out of his car after an airbag deployed.

The other driver exited his car, approached White, and quickly turned violent.

"I rolled down the window, and man, he started cursing me up one side and down the other. He jerked the door open and started pounding me. I couldn't get my hands up, nothing to defend myself," White said.

The retired steelworker and father of five suffered severe injuries to his face. Doctors told him that blood on his brain would dissolve. He has been advised to rest and minimize facial expressions to lessen the chance of further injury.

As he deals with a great deal of pain, White told News 5 from his Canton home that he feels lucky to be alive.

"Yes, I do," he said. "He attacked me viciously."

Canton police identified the suspect as 32-year-old Travonce Backie. He is charged with attempted murder and felonious assault.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force arrested Backie in the 3200 block of 5th Street SE in Canton.

According to records from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Backie has a prior criminal record which includes serving time behind bars from 2011 to 2018 for drug and aggravated burglary charges.

White's family-- including his wife of 66 years-- Mabel White, were pleased to learn about the capture.

"You can't go around doing this, especially to elderly people. He could have died right there," she said.

The victim's large extended family lifted White's spirits by filling the living room with several get-well signs. White walked over to hold her husband's hand, a moment that likely never meant so much.

"All-in-all, the good Lord took care of me I guess," he said.

Ralph White was also grateful to be reunited with his dog named Shania. She was in the car when the accident happened and ran away. The dog was missing for a day before police found her on Sunday.

"She's my guard dog," White said with a smile.

While White continues to count his blessings, he's also angry over the ruthless beating. When asked what he would say to the suspect, White was quick to give a response.

"I think I would be tempted to hit him," he said. "And then after I hit him, I'd pray for both of us."

RELATED: Man arrested for allegedly beating 85-year-old in Canton