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Local crime survivors honored with ‘Courage’ award

An East County woman who survived being bound, gagged and beaten by a pair of thieves will be honored today by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis with a “Citizens of Courage Award.”

Natalie “Sandy” Herbst-Vinge is one of eight recipients slated to be honored Friday at a luncheon in San Diego as a prelude to National Crimes Victims’ Rights Week.

Herbst-Vinge was 76 when she was attacked by two young men in her La Mesa home in December 2008. The men — Luis Osborne and Jeffrey Nelson — put her in the cargo area of her hatchback car and drove around until they were spotted by an alert sheriff’s deputy 26 hours later.

Osborne pleaded guilty to willful cruelty to an elder and second-degree robbery, and was sentenced to 10 years and four months. Nelson was convicted of attempted murder and torture after pleading guilty to kidnapping and other charges. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Though she survived the attack, Herbst-Vinge — who was an active swing dancer prior to the attack — was left with chronic leg pain.

Other honorees include a woman who was severely beaten and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend in a domestic violence attack, a couple who survived a home invasion robbery, a woman who awoke to an intruder straddling her in bed with a knife to her throat, and a dog who works with children and mentally disabled adults who have been victims of assaults.