Reporting Jessica Kartalija
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A date at Camden Yards turned tragic when some hecklers beat a man almost to death. Now his family is speaking out for the first time.
Jessica Kartalija has the latest.
Twenty-five-year-old Matt Fortese struggles to recover while two suspects face charges of first- and second-degree assault.
Cell phone video captured the moments after Fortese was brutally attacked at a Nationals-Orioles game.
Fortese was heckled for wearing a Yankees cap at Camden Yards. Michael Bell and Gregory Fleishman are charged with throwing a punch that sent him falling several feet, cracking his skull and leaving him unconscious.
Now, Fortese’s family is speaking out for the first time.
“When Matt had to go into emergency brain surgery on May 31 due to complications from his injuries, more than 30 people drove down from Hagerstown to sit with my family in the waiting room throughout the surgery,” said Matt’s brother, Jimmy Fortese.
After two weeks in critical condition, Fortese has been moved to a facility to learn how to talk again.
“He’s out of that acute phase and he’s into the rehabilitation phase,” said Dr. Jason Pasley, University of Maryland Medical Center.
Fortese was on his second date with Taylor Queen when the fight broke out. Nathan Steelman, an off-duty trooper with state police, came to his aid. Witnesses say the suspects, who had been heckling fans throughout the game, continued to yell and spit at him.
“He was able to clear the airway right away and provide the lifesaving medical care that was not otherwise immediately provided,” said Fortese’s attorney Andrew Alperstein.
He was also able to hold suspects until city police arrived.
Now, as Fortese struggles to recover, his family worries about how they’ll cover the cost of his medical care.
“Matt was supposed to start a new job with full benefits on Monday, June 3, just a few days before this tragic event occurred,” Fortese said.
Jimmy Johns in Hagerstown will hold an event on June 26 to help raise money. Matt’s friends have started a website to help raise money. To donate, click here.
Donations will also be collected at Octavia and other stores at the Village of Cross Keys in Baltimore City.