HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Hendersonville family’s vacation to New York City took quite a turn after their 17-year-old son was reportedly attacked while walking near Central Park.
At first, the Chittom family was all smiles in their photographs as they explored the Big Apple over fall break. The trip, which was their son Caleb’s first time in Manhattan, ended up being unforgettable.
“Suddenly, my wife cries out and says, ‘oh my gosh.’ And so I turn and look and I see Caleb falling to the street. And Lynn-nore says something like, ‘oh my goodness, he’s fallen in the street, he’s gonna get hit by a car.’ And so we both tear off running,” recalled Thom Chittom, Caleb’s dad.
According to the family, a man — who appeared to be homeless — randomly hit Caleb square in the face, breaking his nose and sending him flying into the street.
“I think when Caleb turned around, he just maybe took that as an affront and just came in with the right hook and just clocked him,” said Thom. “I noticed blood is just coming out of his face, I mean, just to this amazing amount.”
The suspect was never caught.
“By the time the police kind of went looking for him, he had scooted off into Central Park, and there’s just so many places to disappear in there.”
Thom said that just as his mind was racing with ways to help his son, New Yorkers came to the rescue.
A nearby doorman got napkins to soak up the blood, another person called 911, and a third individual tried to get a photograph of the attacker.
On top of that, a New York restaurant invited the Chittom family to a meal on the house, and their hotel upgraded their room and gave them snacks, as well as a thoughtful get well card for Caleb.
“Most people really are trying to do good by their community and to help other people,” said Thom. “I guess we need to hear that more, that the people around us really are caring people.”
The Chittoms returned home to Tennessee feeling like the Big Apple also has a big heart.
When News 2 asked if Caleb ever wants to visit New York City again, Thom said he does, adding that the kindness they received from total strangers after such a horrific incident made a big city feel like a small town.