A University of Rochester student who endured a nearly two-day abduction in late 2015 is still getting his legs back after the terrifying incident, and while it hasn't been easy, Nicholas Kollias is determined to persevere. The Chicago Tribune revisits how the classical pianist and athlete from the Chicago suburb of Northbrook was kidnapped on the night of Dec. 4, 2015, along with fellow student Ani Okeke Ewo, after being invited to a get-together by a young woman. When he arrived at the off-campus house (accompanied by his friend, the woman, and her own friend), a group of men armed with knives, bats, and firearms emerged. Over the next 40 hours, before being rescued by SWAT, the two were beaten, doused in lighter fluid and threatened to be set ablaze, and sexually assaulted in what Kollias says was a methodical attack.
He was even shot in both legs, though he says he felt no pain during the ordeal, thanks to his fight-or-flight instinct; he chose "fight" to stay alive. "I was thinking about my family, parents, and God," he says. "I didn't want to die and give in to these people." After his rescue, Kollias was treated at a hospital for more than three weeks (he'd lost four pints of blood). Five men and four women, including the two who'd lured him, were arrested and convicted on various charges, with sentences ranging from seven years in prison to 155. Although Kollias says his trust has been marred, he graduated a semester early, moved back to Chicago, and now works for a financial services firm. He still needs twice-weekly PT but says his years playing football toughened him up for the road ahead. "It's only going to get better from here," he says. Read about his nightmare, and recovery, at the Tribune. (Read more abduction stories.)