Almost two weeks after Andrew O'Connell was badly beaten on the Near West Side, his family is waiting for him to recover and looking to find out what happened that night.
Police have no suspects in custody and limited information on what happened about 1:39 a.m. Friday, Sept. 6, when O'Connell was rushed by ambulance from the 1400 block of West Taylor Street to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County after an altercation with at least one male, police said.
"We don't know if he was physically fighting or if he was struck," said Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli.
O'Connell's seven siblings did not know that their youngest brother had been hospitalized until he failed to show up to a family party on Saturday, Sept. 7, said his sister Liz Wos, 34.
By then, the 31-year-old man had undergone emergency brain surgery to relieve pressure from blood surrounding his brain and was placed in a medically-induced coma, family said. Since then, they have been constantly at his bedside at Rush University Medical Center, raising money for his climbing medical bills and following any leads to help police find the person who beat O’Connell up.
"Our first priority is getting Andrew better, but finding out what happened to him and bringing somebody to justice is up there," Wos said. "There are people that saw it, and we have yet to hear from them."
The family believes that O'Connell, who lives within blocks of where he was found in the University Village / Little Italy neighborhood, was kicked multiple times in the head while on his way home from two bars they said that he had visited that night — The Drum and Monkey, as well as Vintage Lounge.
He had moved into the neighborhood last summer, and the bars were in walking distance of his house, his sister said. Although he woke up from his coma last week, he is only occasionally able to recognize people and is unable to remember what happened to him.
"He doesn't know what's going on or why he's there, but he knows he wants to leave," Wos said. "He's been complaining of a headache, which I keep saying is the understatement of the century."
O'Connell grew up in west suburban Oak Brook and graduated from Fenwick High School and the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. He has worked as a trader and had recently started a job in commercial real estate at a brokerage firm. He is low-key and laid-back with a close-knit group of friends, Wos said.
Family is not sure of the status of his insurance, so they have reached out for support to their community, which has responded with not only hospital visits, meals and prayers but also more than $48,500.
Family fears long-term brain damage after the attack but hopes that he will continue to get better every day. Family and police ask that anyone with information on the attack call detectives at (312) 747-8380.
"We are just trying to stay strong and be as supportive as possible," Wos said, "All they keep telling us is that he has a very long road (to recovery)."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun