EXCLUSIVE: Family of brutally beaten 89-year-old San Francisco woman to be recognized

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Two months after a great-grandmother was brutally beaten unconscious at a Visitacion Valley playground, she's showing signs of recovery and her granddaughter is being honored for her work in making the community a safer place.

Yik Oi Huang, 89, was out for her morning walk on January 8 when San Francisco police believe the suspect, 18-year old Keonte Gathron, assaulted Huang and left her for dead before entering her Visitacion Valley home. Gathron faces 16 charges, including attempted murder and elder abuse.

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More than 50 percent of the residents in Visitacion Valley are Asian. Huang's beating raised questions about community safety among this demographic. Huang's granddaughter, Sasanna Yee, says there is a stigma among older generation Asians when it comes to talking to the police and made it her mission to start a community conversation.

In the weeks since the attack, she's drummed up community support for the cause at community forums, which has resulted in more police patrols with Chinese-speaking officers. There is talk of more money for a police substation and resources for a Neighborhood Watch type safety program.

"This is an opportunity for conversation and opportunity to listen to each other and we are doing that... transforming what I'm feeling and what my family is feeling into something positive. Into love and unity."

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Supervisor Shamann Walton has been working closely with the Huang family since the crime. He calls Sassana's efforts to drum up conversation among the Visitacion Valley community and law enforcement brave.

"She's been an avid leader in this and we're excited about everything she's done. She'll be publicly acknowledged for the amazing person that she is," says Walton.

Sasanna will be recognized with that certificate for her contributions on Tuesday.

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In the meantime, there is a piece of paper at great grandma Huang's bedside where she can point to if she's hungry, thirsty or needs changing. While her eyes are once again open, there is still a long way to recovery. But at least now there is hope for a better community for all.

"We're just really praying she can talk to us again and say our names -- for the love that we have in our family, we want to extend that to the world," smiles Sasanna.

A GoFundMe to help with medical expenses has raised nearly $25,000.
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