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Retired Firefighter Jack Carter Going Home After Brain Injury In Assault

MIDDLE ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - A retired FDNY firefighter is being hailed a hero yet again after recovering from traumatic injuries.

The Long Island man was discharged from a rehabilitation center Friday, surrounded by family and friends.

With the help of a walker but on his own two feet and his head held high, 69-year-old Jack Carter was met with well-deserved cheers.

"I don't know what to say, man," he said.

Jack Carter Released From Rehabilitation

Swapping his hat out for an FDNY one, Carter hugged a line of fellow firefighters. He served on Engine 23 for years up until retirement but spent the past few months of his life a little differently -- in recovery.

Back in August 2019, Carter was entering a condo complex in Mt. Sinai, Suffolk County, when police say he was assaulted following an argument and left in a coma-like state. He was suffering from severe injuries, including one to the brain.

Police arrested and charged John Ruggiero, the gated community's security guard and a former NYPD officer.

Carter was hospitalized for two months then began his long recovery at Quantum Rehabilitation and Nursing in Middle Island.

The goal was to relearn simple tasks.

"He is now able to walk out of here after being in a coma-like state," said Lisa Foundas, at Quantum Rehabilitation and Nursing.

Staff with the facility call Carter's recovery a miracle, saying he blew away all expectations.

Carter's wife, Kathleen, preferred he not speak at Friday's press conference, but she did speak herself.

"Every single step we went through, whether it was the breathing tube coming off, I remember just waiting for that and then waiting for this and waiting for the next," she said. "It's just keeping your eye on the prize."

Moving forward, Carter will continue to receive therapy and care, but this time, in the comfort of his own home.

Prior to the attack, Carter was very involved in the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation.

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