Remarkable Recovery: Man Speaks About Attack For First Time

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CLEVELAND— A mentally challenged man who was nearly beaten to death is finally able to talk about the attack.

“Right now I feel 100% better,” said John Rager.

His recovery is nothing short of remarkable.

The 47-year-old was brutally attacked by a group of men on August 14 on East 152nd Street in Cleveland as he walked home from his job at a bakery.

His injuries were so severe that doctors said that he was fading fast when help arrived.

“They said if the ambulance had never come 12 to 14 minutes, I would’ve been pronounced dead. That’s how close I was,” said Rager from his hospital bed at MetroHealth Medical Center's Deaconess building.

Rager suffered compound skull fractures with internal bleeding and other injuries to his legs and body.

Despite his amazing progress, he still has trouble walking, has memory issues and dizzy spells.

“It hurts me a lot. Sometimes I’m in pain and I don’t want to see myself in the pain no more,” said Rager.

But what’s most painful is being separated from his wife Dee Dee, who is also mentally challenged.

She broke down in tears while speaking to FOX 8’s Suzanne Stratford right after the assault and John also became choked up as he talked about his missing his wife.

This is the longest they’ve been apart since meeting in high school.

“Dee, if you see this tonight, I love you. I love you, Dee,” said Rager.

Through all of the pain and suffering, Rager has also experienced moments of joy, like the time his priest brought him a cross and a parishioner brought him a set of rosary beads.

While FOX 8 was filming, a card was delivered from a complete stranger and Rager said, “You don’t know what this means to me seeing this. Thank you for all the people who sent me cards, sent me emails. Thank you all.”

The overwhelming community support has meant a lot to his entire family.

John’s sister Jimi-Lee Hoover said, “Every day it seems like there is a little bit of an improvement. I think all of the prayers and good wishes of the community have really come to fruition.”

John said he feels blessed to still be alive and hopes to be back to full strength soon.

John's family hopes he can return home soon from rehabilitation and go back to work and especially volunteering at his church.

But more than anything, they want the suspects caught, so John can feel safe again in the community he loves.

A $2,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people who attacked John.

Anyone with information should call Cleveland police.

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