MANHATTAN, New York (WABC) -- Police are searching for answers after a Columbia graduate student was brutally beaten in downtown Manhattan.
Jay Reist is fighting for his life in an ICU suite at one of the city's premier trauma centers.
The Columbia graduate student and aspiring actor is breathing with the help of a machine.
"I have no clue why this happened at all," his mother Louise Reist said. "It's just unfathomable that somebody would just do that to anybody."
Jay Reist's mom Louise, sister Lisa and best friend Daphne, are keeping a vigil by his bedside as they struggle to understand how he suffered the injury that shattered his skull.
"They know without a shadow of a doubt the cause of the injury. Blunt force trauma by an object," Louise Reist said. "So you know Wily Coyote didn't drop an anvil on his head, somebody bashed him."
"I don't think I've processed the idea somebody might have deliberately hurt my brother because I kinda have to keep it together so my mom can keep it together more," Lisa Reist said.
Detectives still don't know what happened to Jay Reist, who had gone out with a friend on the Lower East Side last Thursday night.
Police say he left the bar on Avenue B and an hour later, emerged from the L train stop at 14th and 8th Avenue, where he called an Uber to take him home to Inwood.
But along the way he suffered a seizure and the driver called 911.
"Some part of you just thinks that'll never happen to someone I love, that'll never happen to someone I care about and so the shock is really lingering," Daphne Kinard said.
Whatever happened to Jay Reist, police think it was somewhere between a cocktail lounge on 10th Street and Avenue B, and the L train stop at 14th and 8th Avenue.
This would have been between 1 and 2:15 a.m. Thursday night into Friday, and it might have been on the L train or on the street.
If you recognize Jay Reist or saw anything odd around there at that time, the NYPD hopes you'll help them out by calling 800-577-TIPS.
Anyone with more details or a witness account can directly call Detective Gladman at the 34th precinct at 212-927-0447.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for those looking to help contribute for Jay Reist's recovery and medical assistance.
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