EAST HARLEM, NY (WPIX)—It's the story of three mothers: two whose sons allegedly pulled a Halloween prank that's left a third mother fighting for her life. On Friday, the public heard for the first time from either of the boys accused of the attack, through a teary plea for forgiveness from the mother of one of the boys. It's not clear, however, when the victim of the alleged crime will be well enough to hear the remorseful statement, let alone accept an apology.
"My heart goes out to Mrs. Hedges, her children, her family," said a woman who is only being identified as Rosemarie R. because her son's identity is being concealed by the state. "But I'm also a mother," she said as she broke down in tears.
It was a mother-to-mother plea for forgiveness, made on the steps of the courthouse where a judge was deciding whether or not to release from detention two twelve year olds -- Rosemarie R's son, and his friend, whose name is also not being released while he's in custody. Police and prosecutors say that last Sunday evening, the two pre-teens threw a Target store shopping cart from the top floor of the parking garage at the East River Shopping Plaza, where Target and other big box stores are located. The cart landed four stories down on Marion Hedges, 47, leaving her with severe head trauma that her family says will take years to overcome, assuming she can recover. Hedges, a mother of two and high-end realtor from the Upper West Side, had just bought Halloween candy at the shopping center when the attack took place at the hands of the twelve year-olds, according to one of their mothers.
"He's sorry. He's really sorry," she said to a group of reporters and photographers assembled in front of Family Court in Lower Manhattan, regarding statements her son has made to her.
"My son is only twelve years old," she said. "He's a good kid. I just need help. I'm a single mom. I need help."
Meanwhile, the mother of the other boy ran away from the cameras, making no comment. Even though both families are represented by attorneys, they did not get from the legal system the result they sought. The judge ordered both pre-teens to remain in custody until trial.
Meanwhile, the incident may result in physical changes at places like East River Plaza, where it happened. Currently, privately owned walkways like the one from which the shopping cart was thrown, are required to have barriers on their sides that are at least 42 inches high. At East River Plaza, that means the barriers only come up to the elbows of the many security guards visible at the shopping center since last Sunday's attack.
City-owned pedestrian bridges require side barriers eight feet high. The chairman of the city council's transportation committee, James Vacca (D-Bronx Dist. 13) has proposed a resolution that would require all side barriers, on public or private property, to be at least 8 feet high.