A mother of a soldier who was preparing to see her son deploy for the Middle East now just hopes he’ll be able to leave a Philadelphia hospital soon. The man was inexplicably jumped and beaten following the annual New Year’s Day Mummers Parade in the city.
Lori Freni is speaking out for her 19-year-old Army serviceman son, Austin, who suffered severe facial injuries that will required surgery to insert plates in his jaw. His jaw will be wired shut for the next eight weeks.
“Austin’s in rough shape. He’s pretty banged up,” Frenit told FOX 29.
She described a group of 10 to 15 guys who walked by her and made derogatory comments about Austin’s Army jacket. She said one of the young men then struck Austin before others piled on. She said she and Austin’s girlfriend were also struck by the mob.
“Me and his girlfriend tried pulling them off and they hit us,” Frenit told FOX 29. “We got hit in the face. She got thrown in the street.”
The South Detective Division of the Philadelphia Police is handling the investigation.
Austin came home from Fort Benning, Ga., in a Christmas surprise arranged by a stranger after Frenit struggled to raise money for the airfare. Finances have become difficult for the family since Austin’s dad died of brain cancer and Frenit lost work due to disability.
“We’re lost,” Frenit said. “Just complete disbelief.”
Austin was supposed to leave to serve in the Middle East in less than two months.
The Mummers Parade is held each New Year’s Day in Philadelphia. It is believed to be the oldest folk festival in the United States.