NEWS10 Special Report: Surviving a Nightmare

Nancy Crowe survived the attack that left her permanently blind in one eye. She took the stand Monday to face the man who violently attacked her

COLONIE, N.Y. – A local woman was brutally attacked over the summer and is telling her story of survival on the same day her attacker was sentenced for the crime.

Nancy Crowe bravely faced down her attacker James Sayers during his sentencing in Albany County Court on Monday. She asked the judge to deliver the maximum, which he did – 18 years to life.

The Level 3 sex offender admitted to repeatedly stabbing Crowe and then beating her. He was fresh out of prison when he followed Crowe off a CDTA bus and dragged her into some woods and brutalized her using a knife and his fists.

His sentence was part of a deal made with prosecutors.

Prior to the sentencing, Crowe took NEWS10 ABC reporter Anya Tucker to the place where she literally fought for her life and barely won.

Crowe still bears the scars of the attack, and police said the only reason she lived is because she fought so hard against her attacker. Crowe is a former Army officer, a person of integrity and strength, and someone that pure evil simply could not kill.

“I don’t die easy,” she said.

It all began on August 11 around 6 p.m. after Crowe stepped off the bust at her stop in Colonie. As she made her way along Watervliet Shaker Road, traffic cameras captured what she did not know at the time – a stranger had followed her off the bus, and he was getting closer.

“I felt a foot step that should not be there and then felt an arm around my neck, and I was pulled back,” Crowe said. “I woke up and saw the sky; the leaves. Then I saw his face and he said, ‘I told you not to look at me!’ And then I felt the blade.”

That is when Sayers stabbed Crowe in the eye.

“He had every advantage,” Crowe said. “He was bigger than me. He was willing to use a knife. The only advantage I had was the law, and I just began screaming, ‘Help!’”

Help wasn’t far away. Colonie police investigator Michelle Crowley just happened to be driving by when she spotted a fellow officer.

“I ran into the woods and saw her there,” Crowley said.

Crowley said she told Crowe that she was going to make it even though Crowley didn’t believe it herself. But Crowley assured Crowe anyway.

“[I said] that everything was going to be okay,” Crowley said.

As the tenth child out of 11, Crowe grew up tough. She became one of only a few female officers to serve in the army during Desert Storm. The veteran was determined to stay alive long enough to face the man who had stabbed her more than a dozen times.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I didn’t want him to get away,” she said.

Sayers was arrested after police said he cut off his ankle bracelet, which had placed him at the scene.

As for Crowe, the scars and blindness in her left eye are permanent.

“I tell Cyclopes jokes; pirate jokes,” she said. “That’s the way I’ve dealt with life. Just poke fun at things.”

Crowe also gained a friend in investigator Crowley who visited Crowe every day in the hospital.

As for Sayers, Crowe has made a promise.

“I want him to know that at every parole board hearing, I will be there,” she said.

Crowe lost a lot since the attack, including her job as a receptionist. But in some ways, she is stronger than before.

Prior to the attack, Crowe said she suffered from severe depression, but now she said she has found a new strength inside her, and it is helping her heal.

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