Frank Tarantella walked just a few blocks from his South Philadelphia home to a neighborhood bar on Oct. 11. Within hours, he was found on the sidewalk, beaten and unconscious from head injuries.
Others who were at Cookie’s Tavern at Alder Street and Oregon Avenue that night told Tarantella’s fiancée, Christine Lassiter, that a fight broke out in the bar and moved outside. She believes Tarantella, 48, got caught up in the brawl and couldn’t escape.
Now in a coma, Tarantella is suffering from brain stem damage, bleeding, and a fractured skull, Lassiter said. The police are investigating, and Tarantella’s family members are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of his attacker.
“People know what happened,” said Lassiter, 44. “They saw it. I know there’s people who know things who aren’t coming forward.”
Lassiter and Tarantella have been together for 18 years. Their son, Frank, turned 15 on Wednesday. Instead of hosting a big family dinner with cake, the two planned to visit Tarantella in the hospital.
Tarantella worked as an engineer for the Sheraton Philadelphia University City Hotel. Lassiter works mornings as a dispatcher with the Delaware River Port Authority.
On the Friday night he was attacked, he went to the bar and met two friends there, Lassiter said. Sometimes Tarantella crashed at a friend’s house nearby instead of coming home late, so she didn’t realize something was amiss until the next day, she said, when she couldn’t reach him by phone. She started calling hospitals.
She said their son, a freshman in high school, has hardly been able to talk about what happened. He and his father often attended Eagles games together and could walk to the stadium from their Johnson Street home.
Doctors told Lassiter that the part of Tarantella’s brain that controls motor skills was damaged and warned that it might take more than a year to see any progress.
“It’s hard at night,” she said. “You don’t even want to lie in your bed.”
Anyone with information is asked to call South Detectives at 215-686-3013 or the Citizens Crime Commission at 215-546-TIPS.