A man who lost his wife and daughter in the East Harlem explosion last month is staying optimistic as doctors say his teenage son, who was critically hurt in the explosion, is recovering well and may soon be able to walk again.
Cecilio Hernandez, wiping away tears at times, spoke to reporters Wednesday from Harlem Hospital Center where his 15-year-old son Oscar is recovering. Hernandez's wife Rosaura Vasquez and oldest daughter Rosey were killed in the explosion on March 12.
"There are not enough words that I can express my gratitude for all who have supported me and my family throughout this great tragedy," he said through a translator.
Hernandez said his son was home when the building collapsed. Badly burned and covered in blood, he was carried out of the rubble by police and rushed to the hospital, where he was immediately taken to the operating room.
Oscar's injuries were grim. Dr. Arthur Cooper said both of the teen's legs were broken, he had spinal fractures, his liver was torn and burns covered most of his body.
Three weeks later, as the teenager ate a hamburger from Burger King in his hospital bed, Cooper says he expects the best.
"I think we're all confident that he will get pretty well back to his normal activities," said Cooper.
Because of his burns, Oscar is listed in critical but stable condition. Doctors believe he will walk again and that the teenager may be out of the hospital soon to enjoy the summer.
While Hernandez remains heartbroken after losing his wife and oldest daughter, he says he's also full of hope that his son will recover. He believes the family, including his 6-year-old daughter who was at school when the explosion happened, can begin to heal together both physically and emotionally.
Hernandez added through the translator, "I would like to thank all New Yorkers and all others who have prayed for us."