The young woman was floating face down in the water, about a mile southwest of the southern tip of Manhattan. Wearing only red running shorts and a black sports bra, she was barely visible to the naked eye of the captain of the Staten Island Ferry: When he caught sight of her bobbing head, it was like glimpsing the tip of a ballpoint pen across a busy city street. Less than four minutes later, a skiff piloted by two of the ferry’s deckhands pulled up alongside the woman. One man took hold of her ankles while the other grabbed her shoulders. As she was lifted from the water, she gasped. Skip to next paragraph The City Go to Section Front » WABCContinue reading...
A flier posted during Hannah Emily Upp's absence.
“I went from going for a run to being in the ambulance,” the woman said several months later in describing her ordeal. “It was like 10 minutes had passed. But it was almost three weeks.”
On Aug. 28, a Thursday, a 23-year-old schoolteacher from Hamilton Heights named Hannah Emily Upp went for a jog along Riverside Drive. That jog is the last thing that Ms. Upp says she remembers before the deckhands rescued her from the waters of New York Harbor on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 16.
Rumors and speculation abounded about what befell Ms. Upp. She disappeared the day before the start of a new school year at Thurgood Marshall Academy, a Harlem school, where she taught Spanish. She left behind her wallet, her cellphone, her ID and a host of troubling questions.
It was as if the city had simply opened wide and swallowed her whole — until she was seen on a security camera at the Midtown Apple store checking her e-mail. Then she vanished again. And then reappeared, not only at the Apple store but also at a Starbucks and several New York Sports Clubs, where news reports said she went to shower.
Was she suffering from bipolar disorder? Running away from an overly demanding job? Escaping from a city that can overwhelm even the most resilient?
Other questions lingered. Did she forage for food? Where did she sleep? Most baffling of all, how did she survive for so long without money or any identification in one of the world’s busiest and most complex cities?