— After 15 months of recovery, multiple surgeries and rehabilitation, the Connecticut woman who was savagely mauled by a chimpanzee has left the Cleveland Clinic and moved into an assisted living facility closer to her home.
“I take it day by day and just see how it goes, and I hope for the best,” Charla Nash told Meredith Vieira in a taped interview that aired on TODAY Friday, the day after she moved to her new home in the Boston area. “There is something, some power, that kept me alive.”
Nash wears a veil that covers her face. Although disfigured, she looks considerably better than she did six months ago, when she unveiled herself on Oprah Winfrey’s show. Additional surgery has given her a nose and added definition and a more natural contour to her mouth.
Her doctors say she still can’t chew food, but is able to drink liquid nourishment through a straw.
‘He’s killing my friend!’
Known to her friends and family as “Charlie,” Nash lost her eyesight, her fingers and much of her face when she was attacked in February 2009 by Travis, a 200-pound male chimpanzee owned by her friend, Sandra Herold, in Stamford, Conn.
The transcript of the 911 call a frantic Herold made is chilling:
“He’s killing my friend!”
“Who’s killing your friend?”
“My chimpanzee!... He ripped her apart. Hurry up! Hurry up please!”
Frank Chiafari, the policeman who responded to the call at first didn’t recognize Nash as human, and then, when he got closer, couldn’t tell if she was male or female, so horrible were her injuries.
Doctor were frankly astonished that she survived at all. A three-dimensional CAT scan taken of her face after the attack revealed that the underlying bone structure was shattered like a dropped mirror.
According to ctpost.com, Nash is looking into the possibility of getting hand and face transplants. Unable to see and with little left of her hands, she needs constant assistance. She walks well and enjoys getting outdoors.
She’s been an inspiration to all who helped her at Cleveland Clinic, where she had an emotional farewell with lots of hugs.
“Ms. Charla Nash has made great progress in her recovery,” a clinic spokesperson said in a prepared statement. “Throughout her stay she has touched the lives of many of our employees.”
Nash has two brothers — Steve and her twin, Mike. Both alternated living in Cleveland during her recovery so that one was constantly with her. She also has a daughter, Briana, who will be attending college in the fall.
Her brothers called her a fighter, “stubborn and determined.”
“I just want to be able to be around her, of course, as much as I can and be supportive,” Briana told NBC News.
‘Day by day’
Nash has sued Herold for $50 million and is contemplating suing the state of Connecticut for not taking Travis from Herold even when the chimp showed signs of being a threat to others. When Nash was attacked, she had responded to a call from Herold to get the chimp back indoors after he left the house and wouldn’t come back.
Travis had done work in television commercials and was well-known in Stamford, where he once got out of Herold’s car and held up traffic while cavorting in the street. But he had never attacked anyone until he went after Nash, who knew him well.
The chimp also tried to attack Chiafari, the cop who responded to the 911 call. After beating on the passenger-side window of Chiafari’s squad car, Travis opened the driver’s door and was moving to attack the 25-year veteran cop. Chiafari just had time to pull his sidearm and pump several shots into the animal before he finally gave up the attack and retreated back into Herold’s home, where he died of his wounds.
Chiafari has applied for disability, claiming that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder because of the terrifying confrontation.
Nash said she doesn’t dwell on what happened.
“I take it day by day, and just see how it goes,” she told NBC News. “I hope for the best.”