published Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Chattanooga: Valleybrook resident severely beaten

Beating
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After four months of hell, Thad Mason was back in this Valleybrook Golf and Country Club home.

The 59-year-old Hixson resident had stayed at a Vanderbilt University hospital for months while waiting for a new heart, which he has yet to receive.

And on Saturday, with temperatures dropping to comfortable levels, Mason walked out his back door, carrying a battery to support his left ventricular assist device, which helps his heart pump blood.

Minutes later, the heart patient on prescribed blood thinners was beaten nearly to death by a group of youth who demanded his wallet, which he wasn't carrying. He was beaten with a baseball bat, sustaining a broken nose, broken jaw, abdominal bruising and numerous contusions, his brother said.

"I couldn't even recognize him," said Bob Mason, the victim's brother. "He almost bled to death before they got him to the hospital."

About 6 p.m. Saturday after his wife went to pick up dinner, Thad Mason went for walk from his home in the 100 block of Masters Road just near the sixth hole of the golf course. His young granddaughter was watching him through a window part of the time, his brother said.

Mason came upon the group of about four to five white teens in a wooded area. The youth had long hair and baggy pants and were between the ages of 15 to 18 with average builds, according to Chattanooga police.

"He said it happened so fast. He was hit in the face with the ball bat," his brother said.

As of Monday evening, there were no arrests, police said.

His brother said when Mason's wife returned home, the young girl told her, "Nana, Nana, Papaw is laying on the ground."

As of Monday, Mason was back at Vanderbilt University, recovering and listed in serious condition.

Thad Mason told his brother he remembers getting struck three times, then falling to the ground.

"He didn't remember anything else," Bob Mason said.

"It's just not right," Mason said.

Chattanooga police are asking anyone with any information to contact police at 423-698-2525.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.

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