Road rage victim awake and smiling

'Of all things - he threw a cup at her. It's just wrong'

REDDING, Calif. - The Cottonwood grandmother who slipped into a coma after a road rage suspect threw a coffee mug at her face - is now awake.

Joann Lambrecht-Vester has been mildly responsive to doctors and family members inside her Redding care center. But this is just the first step in a long road to recovery.

"Her eyes were just open and she was just looking around like this. And she's got this wonderful, beautiful smile on her face. I just love that smile," daughter Mollie Aitken said about her mother with a grin.

Aitken hadn't seen her mother's cheerful smile in 12 days. That's how long Joann had been in a coma after being attacked by an angry driver.

"This was caused by somebody just being angry on the road. And it didn't, unfortunately, need to go that far. But it did," Aitken said.

Joann had been going through recovery after open-heart surgery and had been taking blood thinners when she was hit in the face by the travel-sized coffee mug. The bridge of her nose was sliced and bleeding excessively, which sent her delicate heart over the edge.

"She didn't deserve this. She's too wonderful of a person. From my understanding she was trying to diffuse the situation, calm the guy down," Aitken explained.

Redding Police investigators are continuing to search for the road-rage suspect. He was seen driving a dark green early 2000s model Nissan Xterra. The suspect is described as a white male, 25 to 27 years old, with brown collar-length hair and a clean-shaven face. A female passenger with light brown hair was also inside the suspect's car when the incident occurred on April 1.

"At first when this was all going on, I wasn't too worried about finding the person," Aitken explained. "My attention is on my mom, but I wanted him to see what his actions caused."

Aitken is focusing on faith and hopes whoever the suspect is who threw the coffee mug at her mother turns himself in.

"All I can say is right now she's smiling, and that's just everything to me," Aitken said with a smile.

Secret Witness of Shasta County is offering a reward of $5,000 dollars for information leading to the arrest of the suspect or suspects wanted in this crime.

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