When Keirsten Marsico saw her young son Joey after a lawn mower accident led to the amputation of his left foot, he comforted her by reassuring her that everything would be okay.

“After he came out of surgery that night, I was naturally in tears, and he just took my head in his hands and asked, ‘Mommy, what’s wrong?'” Marsico recounted to PEOPLE. “I told him, ‘I’m really sad, buddy.'”

Joey Marsico

On Thursday, May 9, Joey, who was just weeks away from his fourth birthday, was watching his grandfather Mark DeLuca mow the lawn outside their home in Whitehall, New York, when a split-second decision placed him in danger.

“He really loves tractors and enjoys helping with the lawn,” Keirsten explained about her “active little boy,” the younger of her two children. “He ran up behind my dad, who was on the riding lawn mower. Before my mom could reach him, my dad put the mower in reverse, and everything happened all at once,” she recalled. “It was a sequence of events that led to what happened.”

Keirsten further explains, “It’s been tough on all of us, especially my parents who feel absolutely awful. My dad in particular is devastated.”

The family credits Mark DeLuca with applying a tourniquet swiftly, an act that likely saved Joey’s life. Joey was airlifted to Boston Children’s Hospital, where he underwent multiple surgeries on his foot, ultimately leading to the decision to amputate.

Despite the challenges of his recovery, Joey has impressed his nurses and doctors with his maturity and positive attitude, which has also amazed his family and friends.

Joey Marsico

“He’s such a resilient kid,” Keirsten remarks. “Talking to him is almost like talking to a teenager at times. He’s incredibly well-adjusted.”

Joseph, Joey’s father, reflects on his son’s remarkable maturity, noting, “He’s always been that way—very understanding, perceptive of people’s emotions, and adept at coping with situations. He’s also very vocal, with a vocabulary that surpasses what you’d expect for his age.”

During Joey’s nearly month-long hospital stay, the Marsicos—alongside their 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, who is on the autism spectrum—adjusted to a new routine.

“My daughter has school, so we tried to maintain a sense of normalcy for her,” Keirsten explains. “Routine is crucial for her, so my husband and I decided that one of us should stay home with her.”

Keirsten stayed home while Joseph remained steadfastly by Joey’s side. “He hasn’t left Joey’s side,” Keirsten emphasizes.

Reflecting on an emotional moment, Keirsten recounts, “The other day when I was leaving Joey, I was crying, and he comforted me again. He wiped away my tears and said, ‘It’s okay, you don’t have to be sad.’ I told him, ‘I know, but I don’t like leaving you.'”

The Marsicos find solace in their Catholic faith and in recognizing that Joey’s accident was a tragic anomaly.

Keirsten expresses her deepest concern, admitting, “My worst fear is that people will hear this story and think, ‘Why weren’t they watching him?’ or ‘How could they let this happen?’ It’s something I’ve wrestled with as his mom.”

However, she finds comfort in her faith, believing there’s a purpose behind everything happening to Joey. “I keep reminding myself that there’s a reason for all of this. God has a plan for him, even if we don’t understand it right now,” Keirsten shares.

“If someone else were in our shoes, I would tell them it’s an accident,” she asserts. “Accidents happen, and dwelling on ‘why’ won’t bring answers—it only leads to self-blame.”

Keirsten emphasizes their family’s resilience in facing adversity. “We have to adapt and overcome what’s happening. Our focus is on supporting Joey and staying strong together as a family.”

Joey was discharged from the hospital on June 5, returning home after nearly a month since the accident. He celebrated his 4th birthday earlier in the week.

His parents are optimistic about his recovery and upcoming prosthetic fitting. They are amazed by Joey’s ability to express his feelings and comfort others throughout this challenging time.

“He’s always been such a special little boy,” Joseph reflects warmly.