Guiying Ma, 61, was sweeping the sidewalk outside her Jackson Heights home on Nov. 26 when a man ambushed her and smashed a large rock against the left side of her skull, just inches from her eye.
The morning attack left her in a coma, and Ma needed surgery to open her skull and drain fluid to relieve pressure on her brain.
Cops arrested a suspect, Elisaul Perez, and charged him with a hate crime.
Perez and Ma got into an argument, which culminated with Perez, 33, knocking her unconscious with the rock, according to a criminal complaint. He threw the rock at her a second time while she lay on the ground, bleeding from the head, prosecutors charge.
He has pleaded not guilty to assault charges and is in custody.
Ma’s supporters were thrilled by her recovery, though she was not out of the woods.
“She was able to move her right arm and her right leg but not her left side,” said landlord and friend Yihung Hsieh.
Hsieh described his tenant as a kind person who was always looking out for him.
“When she saw me working in the backyard she cooked dumplings or noodles without asking me and would come and bring it to me for lunch,” Hsieh said. “She told me she wanted to help me sweep the sidewalk. I feel pretty bad, this incident happened because she was helping me.”
Hsieh said the last two months have been very stressful on Ma’s husband, Zanxin Gao.
“In his mind he’s always thinking his wife might not understand him and may not be able to talk, like a vegetable, and that maybe she’d be in a coma for a long time,” Hsieh said. “He was very worried about how to take care of her.”
But seeing his wife awake has given him new life, Hsieh said. The victim’s husband, a delivery man, had begun having problems with one of his legs, but after seeing his wife wake up and respond, the pain seemed to fade away, Hsieh said.
“Mrs. Ma was awakened and Mr. Gao was so happy,” Hsieh said. “I asked him how it was, and he told me much better. I think Mrs Ma is the best medicine.”
A GoFundMe set up for Ma noted that her improved condition had done the same for her husband.
“A joyful heart is good medicine, a broken spirit dries up the bones,” the GoFundMe notes, quoting a Bible verse.
Hsieh said he and Gao were scheduled to attend a Thursday night banquet in Lower Manhattan put together by Asians Fighting Injustice, a local non-profit that urges action against hate crimes.
While Ma’s alleged attacker is not charged with a hate crime, the incident occurred during an alarming spike in anti-Asian incidents around the city. On Thursday, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said his office is currently prosecuting 33 anti-Asian hate crimes, the most since the DA’s hate crimes unit was established in 2010.
Hsieh set up the GoFundMe page to raise money for Ma’s hospital care. Hsieh said Ma does not have medical insurance and had lost her job during the pandemic.
ABC7 New York first reported on Ma’s miraculous recovery.
Top Feature Photo: Guiying Ma -Obtained by Daily News