MIDLOTHIAN, VA (CBS Local) – A Virginia supermarket employee, who has gone deaf due to a rare disease, says a woman attacked her for not responding to the shopper’s question.
Liberty Gratz has been working at the Publix in Midlothian, VA since it opened last year. Both Liberty and her twin brother Triton suffer from Usher syndrome; a disease which normally leads to partial or total hearing loss and blindness. Most patients, like Liberty, are born with severe hearing loss and slowly lose both hearing and their sight over time.
According to the young woman, who was communicating through sign language to her mother, an unidentified woman approached her on April 21 while she was stocking a shelf and apparently tried to ask a question. “All of a sudden, I felt some woman hit me in my back,” Jeanette Gratz relayed, via WTKR.
Liberty’s mother says her daughter has already lost some of her vision and had no way of knowing the shopper was nearby and asking a question. “She doesn’t have that peripheral vision, so she’s really focused on her work,” Gratz explained. The 21-year-old communicates with her family using American Sign Language (ASL), but reportedly opts to write her conversations on paper while at work.
Liberty reported the incident to her Publix co-workers; however, surveillance cameras didn’t catch her attacker as the aisle was allegedly blocked from view by a crowd of shoppers. “It was hard for me to really see her face to make sure it was the right person,” Liberty’s mother translated, via CBS17.
Liberty and her mother added that they believe the attacker took out her frustration out on the unsuspecting store worker. “I will continue to pray for them, and I hope that things get better in their life so they can be better to other people,” the family said.
In February, friends of the Gratz family started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Liberty and Triton to go to Disney before the siblings go blind. The fundraiser has already collected over $6,000 for the twins.