By Phyllis Smith & Jay Gormley,
sized padre suspect Amid Recovery, Dallas Student Headed Home After Spring Break Assault

South Padre Island beating suspect Michael Rangel. (credit: Cameron County Sheriff's Dept.)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Brookhaven College student who was brutally assaulted on the shore of South Padre Island nearly two weeks ago is on his way home to North Dallas.

Frank Madrigal, the father of 21-year-old Derek “D.J.” Madrigal, said the family is traveling in a large van back from the Harlingen hospital where his son was treated.

Madrigal said they must stop “every two-to-three hours” so Derek can exit the van and improve his circulation. If he does not, his father said D.J. runs the risk of a blood clot that could cause serious health problems.

Mere days after Derek Madrigal turned 21, his father said he got the phone call no parent ever wants to receive.

“I get a call from the emergency staff at the hospital that my son has arrived and has been airlifted with stab wounds,” Frank Madrigal said. “We exploded in terms of not being able to be by his side and have completely no information about the details of what happened.”

It was like a nightmare.

Derek suffered nine stab wounds, a punctured lung and deep bruising all over his body following the brutal beachside attack. And it could’ve been worse: Doctors told the Madrigal family that the student could’ve died had it not been for his athletic frame.

“Had someone not had that shell of protection it could’ve easily been a fatality, in fact it had ben reported that he was unconscious on the ground,” Frank Madrigal said.

Derek underwent two surgical procedures during his recovery.

Police have arrested and charged Michael Rangel, 33, of San Antonio, with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is jailed on $100,000 bond.

Police continue to investigate the crime and believe there are other suspects.

Meanwhile, Frank Madrigal is trying to make the best of a tragic situation.

“It’s a story, ultimately, that will be remembered by all as a great survival and a great success,” he said. “We’ll move on and be better because of it.”