For the first time since the brutal assault in 1989 -- a crime that stunned New Yorkers, the nation, and the world -- the Central Park Jogger reveals her identity and tells the story you haven't heard, the journey of a young woman who turned horrifying violence and certain death into extraordinary healing and triumphant life.
It is the end of a long workday
and she is out for a run.
Shortly after 9:00 P.M. on April 19, 1989, a young woman jogs alone near 102nd Street in New York City's Central Park. She is attacked, raped, savagely beaten, and left for dead. Many hours later, she is found lying in the mud, her body thrashing violently.
When the young woman -- soon to be known around the world simply as the Central Park Jogger -- arrives in the emergency room, her body temperature is 85 degrees, she is comatose, and she cannot breathe on her own. She has a fractured skull and has lost so much blood that the doctors can't understand why she is still alive.
I Am the Central Park Jogger recounts the mesmerizing, inspiring, often wrenching story of human strength and transcendent recovery that involved a family, a hospital, a city -- in fact, an entire nation -- of supporters.
Even today, more than a decade after the attack, the Central Park Jogger is still in the news. As she writes this story, the headlines scream jogger once more. Startling new information about the crime emerges. Because of the nature of her head injuries, she remembers nothing of the attack. Whether one man or several nearly took her life, the damage was done.
And for the Central Park Jogger, the crime was not the climax but the beginning of her journey. This indelible, moving, tough-minded self-portrait weaves the stories of ER workers, doctors, nurses, investigators, family, colleagues, friends, and strangers into a haunting narrative of courage, survival, and healing against seemingly impossible odds.
She tells us who she was -- a well-educated young woman working on Wall Street -- and who she is now. Postattack, she must relearn to read, write, add, subtract, tell time. Once a distance runner, she must learn to walk again. She was a woman who guarded an unhealthy secret that defied treatment until after the violence, when it magically healed; a young professional who worked twelve- to fourteen-hour days but who, postattack, had the courage to reclaim her life and focus on what matters most.
Once comfortable in a high-pressure corporate boardroom, she is a woman who has had to learn to talk again, and is now a powerful and inspiring speaker. She is not the woman she was -- physical and cognitive "deficits" linger -- yet she is stronger and more alive than she has ever been. The event meant to take her life gave her a deeper one, richer and more meaningful.
Meet Trisha Meili, the Central Park Jogger.
The author will make a donation to The Achilles Track Club, Gaylord Hospital, and The Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Program from her proceeds of the book.
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December 31, 2002
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Excerpt from I Am the Central Park Jogger by Trisha Meili
At 5 P.M. on the day of the assault, I turned down a dinner invitation from a friend because I had too much work to do at the office. This was not unusual. At age twenty-eight, I was on the fast track at Salomon Brothers, one of the top-tier investment banks on Wall Street, and often worked late; it was one way to stay on the track.
Before I left the office, Pat Garrett, a colleague of mine who worked in the adjoining cubicle, asked my advice about a new stereo system. Three months earlier I had moved into a building on East 83rd Street and had bought a hi-fi that I had described to Pat as ideal for a smallish New York apartment.
"Why not come over and take a look at it " I suggested.
"Sure," he said, delighted. We had become good friends at Salomon, though our romantic attachments lay elsewhere.
"Come around ten. That'll give me time to go for a run before you get there."
There was no chance I'd forgo the run. I was obsessed with exercise and had run marathons in Boston and many 10K races in New York City. Since I normally arrived at work at seven-thirty, running in the morning would have meant getting up too early. Besides, a night jog was a fine way to relieve the stress of the day. I varied my route occasionally, as the mood struck me, but often, after entering Central Park on 84th Street, would turn north to the 102nd Street crossdrive. At night, this area of the park was secluded and dimly lit, but the only concession I made to its potential danger was to go there at the beginning of my run, rather than later at night. That friends had warned me about running alone at all at night may have goaded me to continue. I had been running there for two and a half years without their advice, and I didn't need it now. Like many young people, I felt invincible. Nothing would happen to me. I can be determined, defiant, headstrong -- and maybe there were deeper issues that drove me to take the risk.
"Great," Pat said. "I'll be there at ten."
And while I remember the five-o'clock call, I don't remember the conversation with Pat; I've reconstructed it here after later talks with him. Indeed, the dinner invitation is my last memory of anything -- words, events, people, actions, touch, sights, pain, pleasure, emotions; anything -- until nearly six weeks later.
Just before nine that night, a group of more than thirty teenagers gather on 110th Street, the northern end of Central Park, for a night of "wilding" -- senseless violence performed because it's "fun and something to do." They throw rocks and bottles at cars entering the park; punch, kick, and knock down a Hispanic man, drag him nearly unconscious into the bushes, pour beer over him, and steal his food. They decide not to attack a couple walking along the path because the two are on a date, but do go after a couple on a tandem bicycle, who manage to elude them. They split into smaller groups, then come together, then split again, like dancers in a sinister ballet. In all, eight are assaulted, including a forty-year-old teacher and ex-marine named John Loughlin, whom they beat unconscious.