‘Emotional’ meeting after vicious assault Doctor meets nurse after saving her from knife-wielding suspect at Seven Oaks hospital
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A nurse who was stabbed at Seven Oaks General Hospital and a doctor who saved her shared a “big hug” when they met for the first time since the attack.
Dr. Ken Hahlweg stopped the Oct. 27, 2021 assault on nursing supervisor Candyce Szkwarek, when he tackled a knife-wielding man and chased him outside.
The suspect allegedly killed his parents before the attack on Szkwarek, who was stabbed in the neck and abdomen.
This spring, Hahlweg and Szkwarek met privately at the Garden City-area hospital, where they discussed the incident and exchanged well wishes.
“It was pretty emotional. It was just going back to that moment (of the attack),” Hahlweg said, after Premier Heather Stefanson and Health Minister Audrey Gordon recognized his act of bravery during a private event Tuesday morning.
At their meeting about four months ago, Szkwarek thanked Hahlweg for coming to her aid in the main-entrance atrium of the hospital at McPhillips Street and Leila Avenue.
Hahlweg was pleased to see the progress she has made in her recovery.
“I’m happy to say she’s doing really well and resuming her life,” said the family physician, who is the site medical lead at Northern Connection Medical Centre. “She has recovered remarkably. It’s such a blessing she survived. Her injuries were so extensive.”
He said the reunion was arranged by hospital executives following Szkwarek’s release from hospital.
“It was very nice to be recognized by the province and to highlight family medicine.”
–Dr. Ken Hahlweg
At the Manitoba Legislative Building, Stefanson and Gordon gave Hahlweg a framed letter hailing his actions and his commitment to family medicine.
“I was honoured by that,” said Hahlweg, who was joined by family members at the “informal” presentation. “It was very nice to be recognized by the province and to highlight family medicine.”
A spokeswoman for Stefanson said the premier and health minister held a private event to thank Hahlweg “for his bravery and selfless service in defending a colleague from an armed attacker.”
The trio posed for a photo in front of the building’s grand staircase.
The letter, signed by Stefanson and Gordon, acknowledges Hahlweg responded “in a matter of seconds,” and tackled the attacker “without hesitation.”
Winnipeg police officers made an arrest as Hahlweg chased the suspect, who was still carrying a large knife, out of the building.
“Your extraordinarily heroic reaction saved the life of your colleague,” the letter states. “You put the life of your colleague above your own, as if defending a loved one.
“You preserved the health and lives of patients at Seven Oaks hospital who could have been affected by the attack.”
Hahlweg, who previously received a bravery award from Doctors Manitoba, was one of several people who helped Szkwarek that day.
He has described the intervention as a collective effort.
The doctor, who took a few days off work and used counselling services offered through Doctors Manitoba after the incident, said he is doing “fine,” as he reflected on what happened.
“It’s something I will never forget. I was just happy to be there at the time that I was, and to make the decision (to intervene),” he said.
Winnipeg police charged Trevor Farley, 38, with attempted murder in the attack on Szkwarek.
Farley worked as a registered nurse at Seven Oaks.
He is also charged with first-degree murder in the death of his mother, Judy Swain, 73, and second-degree murder in the death of his father, Stuart Farley, 73.
RCMP officers found Swain’s body during a well-being check at her New Bothwell-area farm, about 50 kilometres from the hospital, roughly an hour before the stabbing.
Stuart Farley was found dead at his home in the 300 block of Toronto Street in Winnipeg’s West End that evening.
Five weeks have been set aside for a trial, which is scheduled to begin Oct. 16, 2023.
Prosecutors filed a direct indictment against Farley to send the case directly to trial.
He was arrested under the indictment at The Pas Correctional Centre on May 18.
Farley’s lawyer, Evan Roitenberg, and the Crown attorney’s office declined to comment.
As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.