By Leslie Albrecht, Jeff Mays and Amy Zimmer
UPPER WEST SIDE — Family and friends of an Upper West Side real estate executive critically injured after a pair of 12-year-olds allegedly tossed a shopping cart from the upper level an East Harlem mall were holding onto hope that Marion Hedges would recover.
"We're hopeful," her husband, Michael Hedges, said as he left the family's West 95th Street townhouse and hailed a cab Tuesday afternoon. "She's going to be, in the best of all cases, in rehabilitation for months."
Marion Hedges, a 47-year-old real estate broker for Prudential Douglas Elliman and mother of two, was standing in the parking lot of the East River Plaza mall near the entrance to Costco with her young son at roughly 5:48 p.m. Sunday when the shopping cart fell onto her, witnesses said. The cart came from the Target level of the mall a few stories above, witnesses said.
The two 12-year-olds, who live in nearby public housing, were charged as juveniles with felony assault and criminal possession of a weapon after the incident.
A woman, who said she has lived in the same building as one of the boys for a decade and was his neighbor, called him "a very bad kid."
"He talks back to his mom," said the woman, who declined to provide her name. "He's very disrespectful." The second child involved in the incident, though, was "a very good kid," she said.
Friends of Marion Hedges said her family had been previously touched by tragedy.
Her younger sister, Fiona, and both of her parents were seriously injured in a car accident several years ago that left Fiona unable to work, said family friends Anne Cottavoz and Paul Singh, a married couple who own two stores on Columbus Avenue around the corner from the Hedges' brownstone.
Her father was also in the hospital getting treatment for a heart condition at the time his daughter was hit with the shopping cart, Singh said.
Marion Hedges' sister, mother and father live in the same brownstone as she does.
"This family has suffered so much," noted Singh. "The father is in the hospital, Fiona had an accident, and now the sister."
"It's heartbreaking," Cottavoz added.
Her father was due to come home from the hospital Tuesday with a new heart pump, said pastor Leslie Merlin of Second Presbyterian Church on West 96th Street and Central Park West.
She said the Hedges family was "absolutely loved" by the congregation.
Though the family has been through tough times, they're known for their sense of humor and "sweet nature," Merlin added.
Marion Hedges' mother, Mary Salmon, an anesthesiologist, is considered a church elder. Her sister, Fiona, is a deacon there.
"They're just salt-of-the-earth kind of people. You don't have to be wonderful to be loved," Merlin said. "But they are."
Merlin said the church community would likely rally around the Hedges family, adding that she planned to visit Marion Hedges at the hospital Tuesday night.
"They're surrounded by a community that cares for them and looks out for them. No one can prevent things from happening, but we can all reach out and be part of a community that cares for us and helps us get through whatever we have to get through."
Singh and Cottavoz said they planned to raise money for the family at their stores, or do anything else they could to help.
Lisa Hathaway Stella, president of the New York Junior League where Marion Hedges volunteered, said before the League organized any events, it would taking cues from the family, who asked everyone "to focus on her getting better," Hathaway Stella said.
Hedges had been volunteering with the League for nearly 20 years, winning an award in 2006 for her "countless hours of service and dedication," Hathaway Stella added.
"She's an amazing person with a wonderful sense of humor," she said. "We're very hopeful for a positive outcome in all of this."