UPPER WEST SIDE — Marion Hedges, a philanthropist who was gravely injured when two 12-year-old boys dropped a shopping cart on her in East Harlem last year, spoke out for the first time Monday since the terrifying incident — saying she feels badly for the boys who nearly killed her.
Hedges, who was left in a coma after the October attack and is still unable to see out of her left eye, made the comments outside her West 95th Street brownstone after surveillance footage was released showing Achilles Baskin, 14, trying to wrestle the shopping cart away from the boys at the East River Plaza Mall.
"I'm doing one day at a time. I have a long way to go," Hedges, who walked and talked without difficulty, told WNBC/Channel 4 Monday.
Hedges, who was hit by the cart after buying Halloween candy for less fortunate children, said she wants to continue her charity work with under-privileged children. "I'm only focusing on recovery and focusing on helping other young boys that need help," she said.
Though one of the boys who threw the cart on Hedges wrote her an apology letter that was submitted in court before the boy's sentencing, Hedges told NBC she never saw the note.
"I haven't heard from them, but I wish them well, I do, because I feel very sorry for them," she said.
But the mother of two added that the stunt went beyond every day roughhousing. "A shopping mall parking lot is not a place to play," Hedges said.
Baskin, who raced to tell authorities who had tossed shopping cart, has been harassed and labeled a snitch in his neighborhood and has since had to move, family friends told DNAinfo.
At a press conference Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg lauded Baskin's courageous actions.
"I think the community will rally around this kid and understand," Bloomberg said. "He did what was right. He did what I hope you or I would have the courage to do. And he certainly did. He deserves our admiration."
A family friend told DNAinfo that Achilles Baskin's mother, Shareen Baskin, has received death threats since her son identified the shopping cart-pushers to police. "Since her son helped the lady they've had to deal with threats to her life," the friend said.
The family moved Achilles Baskin away from his home for his safety, but a friend said a promise from police to relocate Shareen Baskin and other family members after the incident went unfulfilled. "They have put her life in jeopardy," the friend said. "Sure, he's a hero, but who's going to protect them now?"
The friend said Shareen Baskin now feels trapped. "No one is helping them get out of here. God forbid someone come here and try to do something," he said.
Another family friend who sometimes babysat for Baskin said she's not surprised that the boy tried to stop his friends or cooperated with police. "He's a good kid. No one was surprised," she said.
A man who left the house with Hedges had harsh words for the boys who injured Hedges, saying they should be "hung up by their toes." One of the boys, a 13-year-old whose name is being withheld by DNAinfo, admitted he threw the shopping cart and was recently sentenced to spend 18 months in a group home.
"What have these thugs learned from this experience? That they can be thugs and get away with it. And that's a very sad comment on the state of justice," he said.
Marion Hedges' husband Michael filed a lawsuit on her behalf against the East River Plaza shopping center in February for not providing adequate security.
Hedges' father, Alec George, said Monday that his daughter was making "slow and steady progress."
George, who said he was returning home after having heart surgery, said doctors have told the family that Marion Hedges' recovery from the injury will take six to 12 months.
"She's got the best doctors in the world," George said.