Riverwalk attack victims engaged to marry on crime's first anniversary

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wesley Spires and Ashley Solesbee are engaged

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC. (WRDW) -- The two victims of that brutal beating at the Augusta Riverwalk are reclaiming the date that would forever change both their lives. This May, on the first anniversary of the crime, they're getting married.

That means the May 3rd anniversary, will now be...their anniversary, and something else will make their day even more special: a lot of you are helping them make it all happen.

"This is Ashley, my fiance," Wesley laughed as he used that word for the very first time since he asked Ashley Solesbee to marry him eleven days ago. They stopped by the News 12 studios to talk about their engagement, and their smiles were contagious.

Wesley told the story of how they were in a chairlift, heading up a mountain in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. He said he was nervous he would lose the ring that had been in his pocket all day, so he pulled it out, and asked her to merry him. "It took her a few minutes, but she answered," he laughed. "She said yes."

"He's the one God put here for me," said Ashley. "It just took me a little while to find him. We were running in circles in the opposite directions for a little bit." When their paths finally crossed and that first date finally happened, they found themselves at the Riverwalk. Investigators say two men came out of the shadows and attacked. Wesley somehow got them both to the hospital. He was then in a coma for weeks. "Everybody talked about how bad off we were," Ashley remembered.

But now, everyone is focusing on the good.

"We'd like to thank y'all and Austin Rhodes," Wesley said.

After News 12 reported the two were engaged, WGAC's Austin Rhodes was also taking about it on his radio show. Then something incredible happened. People all over the area wanted to help.

Ashley and her mom were both in the car when she first heard about the community's generosity on The Austin Rhodes Show. "We both started crying," Ashley said. Then she told us how she couldn't get a hold of Wesley, so she taped as much of the show as she could so he could listen to it later. He was blown away by the kindness of strangers too.

With medical bills still piling up, it means the world they can have the wedding they want.

"Something about the wedding came up, and I wanted something different than he did, and he said, 'go ahead and do what you want, I'm not going to have any input,' or something like that, Ashley said. " And he looked at my mom and said, 'see, I'm learning.'"

Their sense of humor about all this is great and their expenses are too. A lot of you have asked how you can help. Is there somewhere you can donate?

There's an account set up at Georgia Bank and Trust. Checks must be payable to Ashley Solesbee.

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