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Man Who Lost Wife, Daughter In Harlem Blast Clings To Hope Of Son’s Recovery

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A brave father who lost his wife and daughter in the Harlem building explosion three weeks ago said he does have reason for hope.

As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported, Jose Cecelia Hernandez’s 16-year-old son who was critically wounded in the blast is now on a slow road to recovery.

Hernandez choked back tears as he thanked everyone who has helped him through the unimaginable: losing his wife and daughter in the explosion that also claimed the lives of six others.

Now, he says he’s spent nearly every waking hour at his son Oscar’s bedside as the boy recovers from injuries sustained when the two buildings on Park Avenue exploded and collapsed on March 12.

“He’s doing fine mentally. He’s reacts very well,” Hernandez said of his son’s progress.

For the teenager, it’s been a grueling recovery from burns, broken bones and internal injuries, Brennan reported.

“He’s had three operations so far, the ones I’ve detailed. The first to stop the bleeding, the second to remove the packing that allowed us to stop the bleeding, and the third to fix his broken thigh bones,” said Dr. Arthur Cooper, Harlem Hospital Center.

Dr. Cooper said Oscar’s recovery is close to a miracle, but he still will need months to recuperate.

“By summer, he’ll be able to enjoy some of his usual summer activities. Can’t be sure, but I think there’s a reasonable hope of that,” Cooper said.

Doctors at Harlem Hospital Center said there are some very hopeful signs of recovery.

“As a surgeon I knew he was doing well because he was enjoying a Burger King burger, so that must be good news to see that,” said Dr. Rama Alju.

Doctors said Oscar is still in the intensive care unit, but despite his burns, he never got an infection, and that has been crucial to his recovery.

Investigators believe a natural gas leak triggered the explosion.

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