On their first trip to Chicago, Jessica and Denise Pagan experienced the unthinkable. Denise was the victim of a brutal assault.
The mother-daughter duo were in town for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. It was Jessica’s tenth marathon overall, but her first in Chicago.
They retrieved a grocery bag from the McCormick Place exhibit on Friday night and were heading to their hotel around 6 p.m. They were planning to take the CTA green line to Cermak and State.
“Once we got to the platform we noticed a man talking to himself and he appeared to be a little angry or distressed,” said Jessica Pagan.
“I was a few feet ahead of my mom. I turned around to get closer to her because I had a bad feeling, but by the time I turned around she was flying on the tracks. from the metro, ”she said.
Jessica said she was in shock. She immediately called 911 for assistance.
“Apparently out of nowhere, three men jumped on the rails and were able to lift her onto the platform while we waited for paramedics,” said Jessica Pagan.
Denise Pagan was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Jessica Pagan said she would need orbital and wrist surgery. Denise also suffered a concussion.
Chicago police arrested Gary Coleman, 32, on Saturday morning. He was charged with aggravated battery.
This isn’t Coleman’s first arrest, however. He has a number of previous assault charges dating back to 2006.
Three days before the attack, police said he assaulted a 60-year-old woman in the Loop.
“We hope that in the future he will be held accountable for his actions but will have support for the help he clearly needs,” said Jessica Pagan.
Despite the vicious attack, Jessica Pagan finished the marathon and said she and her mother were planning to return to Chicago.
“I told my mom about it. She said, ‘You run the race. You trained for this, you’re here. That’s why we’re here. Jessica Pagan.
“The Chicago Marathon has really intensified, in a very unexpected way,” she added.
When informed of the attack, marathon officials contacted the Pagan family and arranged transportation, meals and a new hotel.
“It’s tough enough to run a marathon, and the mental and physical toll it takes. We wanted to make sure we could improve it a bit, so she didn’t have to worry about all of that. “said Dr George Chiamps. , the chief medical officer and responsible for the safety of the marathon.
“It is an honor for her and her mother to see past an incident and make sure that this is not what defines us as a city, or defines us as the Chicago Marathon,” Chiampas said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot visited Jessica and her mother in the hospital, and Chicago Police provided Jessica with an escort to the start line of the marathon. Their families were also matched with emergency counselors.
“I just wanted people to know that everyone we met this past weekend went beyond, from the Chicago Police Department to running the Chicago Marathon, all the staff at Northwestern,” said Jessica Pagan.
“Chicago really made us feel like we were supported, even though we had a tough experience,” she said.
Denise Pagan was able to return home on Monday. Jessica Pagan said she is recovering and will have surgery in the next few days.