ABC Action News reports
that 34-year-old John Applewhite of Lakeland, Florida had just finished a grueling 13-hour shift volunteering with a 24-man crew from Lakeland Electric and was looking forward to a nice steak dinner when a man got out of a black BMW in the East Hempstead, New York neighborhood where the crew was working on restoring power.
Applewhite believed the man was about to ask him a question about the power situation and so he approached the stranger.
"He met me about halfway between my truck and his vehicle, and just as I got within arm's reach, he decked me," Applewhite told
"I don't know if he had anything in his hands," Applewhite told ABC Action News from his hospital bed after being airlifted back to Florida. "It seems like he did. He did quite a bit of damage."
Indeed, Applewhite suffered a broken jaw, a broken cheek bone and several other fractured bones in his face. He will require surgery to repair his battered face.
"They're going to put a plate in my face and wire my jaw. At least three surgeons will do work on me," Applewhite told WTSP.
The assailant, who has not been identified, sped off in his car after the attack. Long Island police are searching for him.
Applewhite said he has no idea why he was attacked, and he harbors no ill will towards the people he traveled more than 1,100 miles (1,770 km) to help. He said families brought food and water for him and the rest of his crew and someone even made a snowman as a thank-you gift.
When asked what he would do if he ever encountered his attacker again, Applewhite told ABC Action News that he'd like to shake his hand.
"It was one heck of a punch," he said. "If nothing else, I would like to shake the guy's hand. He got a heck of a jab."