Concert tailgate beating victim making remarkable recovery

Zac Zander, family celebrate special Thanksgiving

VALLEY CENTER, Calif. - A young North County man is recovering remarkably well two months after a severe beating at the hands of seven men at a concert.

The incident happened on Sept. 22 in the parking lot at Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre as tailgating prior to a Jason Aldean concert was winding down.  

On Thursday, at a family gathering for Thanksgiving, 25-year-old Zac Zander told 10News, "Still got a limp; it still hurts."

Zander said he felt fists punching and boots stomping. His leg was broken and his face crushed. After surgery, he asked about his injuries.  

"I asked the doctor what they broke. He said it'd be easier and quicker to tell you what they didn't break. They didn't break your bottom jaw and they didn't crack your skull. Everything else looked like corn flakes," Zander said.

His face had to be rearranged.

"Plate screws, bone graft," he said.

Despite that, the scene at his parents' Valley Center home looked like one out of Normal Rockwell. For the family, Thanksgiving is an understatement.

Zander's mother, Cheryl, told 10News, "It's just overflowing in our hearts today."

The Zanders are a Christian family, and they've pulled together in a time of trial. The love could be felt in their house.

But there's something else -- the knowledge that it can all change in an instant.

Keith Zander, Zac's father, said, "When something like this touches your family, it changes you; it changes your outlook on people, on being in public. Every time she sees a Marine, she (Cheryl Zancer) gets scared."

They and many family members are giving thanks that their son is alive and doing well. They are thankful for the doctors and nurses, family and friends, and circumstance.

Keith Zander is grateful the fight occurred on gravel, so there was a little give beneath his son.  

"Fortunately, when they pounded down on Zac, it wasn't on hard pavement … Have a lot of things to be thankful for," he said.

No arrests have been made, but several of the suspects are believed to be Marines based at Camp Pendleton. Detectives told the Zanders arrests will come.

Zac Zander said he simply wants justice, but he's not dwelling on the incident. He and the rest of his family are focusing on what's good in life.

Cheryl Zander said, "The community that came around us was truly amazing, and Zac felt it, too. And so we're also so thankful for that, but mostly just to have him and celebrate with him today is what our hearts are full of today."

"There's some residual swelling, but the fact that I don't look like Frankenstein is amazing; blows me away … one more thing to be thankful for today," Zac Zander said.

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