ASHTABULA, Ohio — Cell phone video obtained by Fox 8 News shows a student with epilepsy being assaulted by a classmate on a local basketball court as other teens cheer.
The video is now the focus of a police investigation.
The victim, Troy Tomchak, 14, told Fox 8 that he was a typical student and athlete at Lakeside Junior High School in Ashtabula until a frightening night last April when he suffered a seizure that would later be diagnosed as epilepsy.
Since that night, his medical condition has been a major concern for his family.
“His medicine has been increased because of still having seizures in his sleep,” said his mother, Heather Tomchak-Bragg. “He’s more prone to having brain damage, he’s more prone to having kidney problems, being hit in his head can be fatal.”
According to the family, his condition was common knowledge among friends, classmates and other teens in the surrounding neighborhood when Troy and his brother went to play basketball on a court on West Avenue in Ashtabula on March 20.
But they maintain that did not stop a fellow eighth grader, who had once been Troy’s friend and football teammate, from allegedly body slamming the 14-year-old, punching him in the face, and stomping his head and body.
The teen’s motive, according to Troy Tomchak, was that Troy told a classmate earlier in the day that he had once beaten the other boy in a wrestling match.
Tomchak told Fox 8, “Everybody was saying, ‘kill him, stomp on his head, make sure he dies.’ So as he was hitting me, when I was on the ground, I covered my head, because if I don’t, I can die.”
When he was taken to the emergency room that day, Tomchak still had an imprint of the teen’s shoe on his back.
His doctor told the family he believes Troy also suffered a seizure during the attack.
And according to the Tomchaks, what started out as teenage bravado about who was the better wrestler, has now turned into a campaign by the other teen and his friends to intimidate Troy Tomchak and his family.
According to his mother, “He can’t go outside to play, he can’t get onto the bus without hearing it, and I don’t know what else to do. (They said) they can beat his (expletive deleted), that they’re going to stomp him.”
Her son added, “I’m like afraid, but then I’m like I’ve just go to school to get my education.”
The principal of Lakeside Junior High told Fox 8 that the incident is a police matter, because it happened after school and off-campus.
On Tuesday, the family pulled Troy out of school, and indicated he will be home schooled for the rest of the school year.
Troy Tomchak and his parents are now urging authorities to arrest and prosecute the other student.
His mother said, “I’m furious, I want justice for my son. I want these kids to know that when you do something wrong that will hurt another person or even take their life, that there are consequences and you don’t get away with it.”
This story was provided by our news-gathering partners at WJW in Cleveland, Ohio; written by reporter Jack Shea.