By Sandy Strickland
The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville.
Her injuries were horrific, but her story is one of hope and healing.
Trisha Meili lost 80 percent of her blood during an attack and rape so brutal that doctors did not expect her to live more than a few hours.
She had deep scalp lacerations and skull fractures. Her brain was swollen. Her eye had exploded from its socket. Unconscious and tied up, her body jerked uncontrollably because of massive brain damage. The soles of her feet were the only part of her blood-soaked body not bruised, and she was identified by a gold ring that she always wore.
One of her physicians testified that “she hung onto life by a thread.”
But Meili is at peace with being known to the world as the Central Park jogger.
The 53-year-old, who now lives in Jacksonville, will be the keynote speaker at the 45th annual EVE Awards luncheon at noon Friday, June 6, at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront.
Meili, a New Jersey native, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wellesley College and has two master’s degrees from Yale University.
She was an investment banker at Salomon Brothers in New York who found a release in running 6 1/2 miles daily.
To this day, she has no memory of her attack while running on the night of April 19, 1989. Doctors questioned whether she would survive, and if she did, whether she she would be a vegetable. Twelve days after the attack, Meili emerged from a deep coma.
About four weeks later, she was told what happened. But it took some time for her badly damaged brain to process the extent of her injuries.
“At the same time I was absorbing this information about the incredible level of violence, there was an incredible level of support from all over the world,” she said. “The power of that support outweighed the impact of the violence.”