NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An Upper East Side restaurant is pulling together for one of their staff members, critically injured in a car crash over the holidays.
The owner and customers are raising money, hoping for the well-loved manager’s recovery, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported Sunday night.
It’s more than a diner. It’s a community at Mansion Restaurant on York Avenue, where staff members are doing all they can to support the family of their general manager, John Drakopoulos, who is in a coma recovering after a car crash.
“The situation is very difficult, but the support and help from everyone is amazing and I thank everyone,” said Drakopoulos’ wife, Magdalena.
John Drakopoulos, 49, was on his way to work for the morning shift at around 6 a.m. on Dec. 30 when he was in a single-car collision.
Police said he lost control coming off the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and hit a light pole. The car flipped onto its roof.
But there was also damage to the back end. With no surveillance video or witnesses, police haven’t determined exactly what happened.
His wife was visiting family in Poland, so the NYPD called his other family — at the restaurant.
“I received a phone call from an officer in the NYPD who actually comes to the restaurant. He called me first and told me there’s been a horrible accident,” Mansion owner John Philips said.
Now, loved ones are making it their routine to visit him in the hospital.
John Drakopoulos suffered severe head and neck trauma and is in a medically induced coma at Weill Cornell, where doctors say he has a long recovery ahead. So to help with medical bills Mansion Restaurant is trying to raise $250,000 to support him, his wife and 5-year-old son.
“John has limited health insurance, and there are limited funds for his family to keep everything moving in the right direction as John goes through this very long recovery process,” Philips said.
The GoFundMe page has raised $25,000 in the last week.
Customers have been showing up to the restaurant to make cash donations. They’ve also shared hundreds of posters around the neighborhood asking for support.
“He is great. He’s one of the best managers, always thinking about the people,” customer Allen Rogers said.
His wife says right now, if he could see it, he would be overwhelmed by all of the love.
“He would feel like he’s in the best hands, like he’s a celebrity,” Magdalena Drakopoulos said.
Doctors said they won’t know if John Drakopoulos has permanent brain damage until he comes out of the coma. But when he does, his large extended Mansion Restaurant family will be there to help in any way they can.
Once conscious, John Drakopoulos’s recovery is uncertain. He’ll have to undergo surgery to repair a skull fracture and that will require months of therapy.
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