A Marine corporal who was stabbed in the neck on Mar. 10 in El Centro, Calif., is recovering from critical wounds in San Diego, his family confirmed exclusively to NBC 7.
Marine Cpl. Jonathan C. Woodard, 23, is fighting for his life at the UCSD Trauma Center, Woodard family friend Kim Rosales told NBC 7.
Woodard is originally from Waddington, N.Y., and is stationed at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Early last Sunday morning, he was attacked and stabbed by a group of unknown assailants after a night out with a friend and fellow Marine in El Centro, Rosales said.
The Marines were walking back to their hotel after attending a fair in the area when a group of suspects approached Woodward near an alley and allegedly assaulted him, Rosales said.
Woodard sustained multiple stab wounds in the attack, including serious injuries to his neck.
He was transported to a local hospital before being airlifted to the UCSD Trauma Center with critical injuries.
One week after the brutal attack, Rosales told NBC 7 the Marine remains hospitalized in intensive care in San Diego, clinging for life.
Rosales said Woodard’s parents, mother Sandra Ladoceour and father Chuck Woodard, both flew into San Diego from New York earlier this week to be by their son’s side. Rosales is also in San Diego supporting the family.
“It’s been really difficult,” she told NBC 7. “The people that did this to him need to be found.”
Rosales said Woodard is now suffering from severe head injuries stemming from the neck stabbing. He’s also partially paralyzed.
Woodard's parents say the attack on their son was unprovoked. They want El Centro police to find the suspects responsible for the attack and bring them to justice.
"This was blatant, he didn't do anything. This was attempted murder, as far as I'm concerned, and something should be done," Chuck told NBC 7.
Before the stabbing, Woodard was scheduled for deployment, Rosales said. He was supposed to deploy to Afghanistan on Mar. 25 – his second deployment to the country in two years. He’s been a U.S. Marine since 2009.
The Marine's parents say it has been extremely difficult to see their son hospitalized in this way. The past week has been a series of ups and downs for the family as Woodard begins to recover.
"It gets worse whenever you see him in pain and you see the tears rolling off the sides of his eyes, and there's nothing you can do," said Chuck. "
"When we walked in and saw him in that hospital, I almost fainted," Woodard's mother said. "You know, the tubes, his neck was all slashed; it was horrible. I feel helpless. I just want to take his pain."
Rosales said family and friends are rallying for Woodard’s recovery. Loved ones have started a “Team Jonny” support group on Facebook, as well as an online fund to help his family cover Woodard’s medical bills and stay by his side in San Diego.