NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The family of a 6-year-old boy who police say was attacked by an emotionally disturbed homeless man in Queens last month is now talking about that horrible day.
Jeremy Portnoy was outside his grandfather’s home waiting for a pizza when a stranger picked him up and threw him to the ground on his head. The family says he was unconscious and could not speak.READ MORE: FBI Says Body Found In Grand Teton National Park Believed To Be Gabby Petito
Now, the boy is finally recovering and his family spoke exclusively with CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.
Jeremy is competitive, spunky — a fighter. He doesn’t know how he ended up in critical condition the afternoon of Oct. 10.
“The days we were in the hospital were very hard for him,” Tobi Portnoy, Jeremy’s mother, said.
He was unconscious and intubated, but after about a day, there was a change when a neurologist visited.
“He said, ‘Jeremy, open your eyes!’ and Jeremy cracked his eyes and glared at him and closed them, and I was, like, elated he responded, he heard, he understood,” Tobi Portnoy said.
In just four days, Jeremy regained his speech, was able to walk with assistance and was discharged, but he has two fractures in his skull and now he wears glasses.
“The swelling of the brain affected the muscles in the eye,” which gives him a “wonky” eye, Tobi Portnoy says.
For the last month, Jeremy’s been laying low at home with lots of games and gifts from family, friends and even strangers.
He received well wishes from his favorite baseball team, the Yankees. Legends Mariano Rivera and Johnny Damon, as well as former Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine sent personalized videos to Jeremy, at the request of Isaac Rudansky from AdVenture Media. Then, Mike Dube of the nonprofit Sharing Seats, got Jeremy’s father and siblings tickets to a Yankees playoff game.READ MORE: Public School 79 In East Harlem To Remain Closed Due To COVID-19 Cluster; Remote Learning In Place Until Sept. 28
Yankees, Mets Legends Share Best Wishes For Queens 6-Year-Old
“Everyone has been saying they’ve been praying for him, and that really, I mean, for me, it’s the only explanation. Everybody’s prayers and everyone’s good thoughts are what got us through this, for sure,” Tobi Portnoy said.
“To me, it’s nothing short of a miracle. As much as you might see and hear all about the bad, but there’s just as much if not more good out there,” said Yaakov Portnoy, Jeremy’s father. “The nurses the first two days he was at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Valerie and Abigail, they were taking care of him as if they knew him for many, many years, not they just met him that day, and just the feeling of all the doctors and the nurses, the care they had … From the minute we got into the ambulance until the second we got out, Achiezer was with us every step of the way.”
Yaakov Portnoy says the organization, which helps families in crisis, was “making sure we got the best care in the hospital, pushing our appointments to the top, really phenomenal.”
“My coworkers at PEYD were really accommodating and helpful throughout the whole ordeal from covering my job to bringing us food in the hospital,” Yaakov Portnoy said.
Fountain of Kindness sent Jeremy and each of his four siblings a personalized gift basket.
Jeremy’s older brother, Chaim, who was with him during the incident, has also been by his side and receiving support as well.
“We told him how amazing he is and he ran for help and he did what he was supposed to do,” Tobi Portnoy said. “We keep saying you obviously have to be careful and you shouldn’t talk to strangers, but look how many strangers are willing to help us. It makes us feel so connected to everybody and appreciating every moment our family has together. It’s made me more sensitive to other people that need prayers, to be sensitive of what others are going through.”
Jeremy says he’s feeling good and “very healthy” now and he just learned from the doctor he gets to go back to school Wednesday.MORE NEWS: NYC Restaurant Owners Sound Off On Vaccine Mandate
The suspect in this case, 35-year-old Laurance Gendreau, is still in the hospital awaiting arraignment.