Columbia University

Aspiring Actor, Columbia Grad Student in ICU After Possible Mystery Attack on Subway

Columbia University graduate student Jay Reist is on a ventilator at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Washington Heights. His mom hasn't left his side for nearly a week

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An aspiring actor and Columbia University graduate student is in the ICU with brain trauma after an attack, but police and his family still don't know how or why he was so badly injured.

Jay Reist is hooked up to a ventilator at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Washington Heights, still sedated in his hospital room Wednesday night. His mother, Louise Reist, hasn't left the 29-year-old's bedside for nearly a week.

"I'm still in mom mode," Louise Reist said. "He’s just lying in bed needing machines to help him live."

Reist's mother and sister are still trying to piece together what happened to their loved on Thursday night and early Friday morning that caused him to end up in such a perilous condition. The two have a sinking suspicion that he may have been attacked on the subway as he was heading home.

"I think that Jay was at the wrong place at the wrong time," his mother said.

On Thursday evening, the student left his Inwood home — which he shares with his mother — and was going out for drinks with friends on the Lower East Side. Louise Reist said a photo shows her son partying at a bar named Dream Baby on Avenue B, before anything had happened to him.

The mother said that police found camera footage of Reist leaving a subway station on 15th street and 8th Avenue around 2 a.m. From there, she says her son ordered an Uber and had a seizure in the car, which forced the driver to drop him off at the hospital.

Louise Reist suspects that somewhere along the L line stops in Manhattan, someone attacked her son. She knew something was wrong Friday morning when her son hadn't returned home, and wasn't responding to texts .

"I called his number and a nurse answered the phone!" Louise said.

She found her son at the hospital, intubated and suffering from brain trauma from what doctors said was a blow to the back of his head.

"There is just an angry person out there," the mother said.

But despite what happened to her son, Louise said that instead of feeling angry, she’s feeling grateful. That's because Reist's acting class started an online fundraiser to help raise money for his medical bills. So far, more than $70,000 has poured in.

"I am not at all hating humanity, I have more gratitude now than I’ve had in a long time because of the way people are taking care of us," Louise Reist said.

As the NYPD continues their investigation, the family is asking anyone who may have seen a man who matches Reist's description on the L line early morning Friday to speak up and contact police.

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