Amnesiac identified but past is a mystery
Fears he may never know self
SEATTLE - It was seven weeks ago that Edward Lighthart walked out of a Seattle park with no idea of who he was and how he got there, the apparent victim of a bizarre case of amnesia.
He says some memories have been trickling back, including slight recollections of living in China and Europe. But Lighthart still doesn’t know who he is and is frightened over whether he will ever be reconciled with the man people say he is.
“The crux of the matter of who I really am isn’t there yet,’’ he said in an often-emotional interview Monday. “And I’m not sure that its going to come back. This is one of the frightening things.’’
Police say the 53-year-old man emerged from Discovery Park in Seattle early on July 30 knowing he didn’t live in the Seattle area, but unsure of everything else. He flagged down a bus driver, who called police for help.
Officers said the neatly dressed man had $600 hidden in his sock. He says he still has no idea how he got to Seattle, only recalling several peaceful days in the park spent gazing at the trees and sky.
He spent nearly a month at Swedish Medical Center, where doctors told him he has a rare form of dissociative amnesia. After The Seattle Times published an article about him on Aug. 20, friends and relatives who saw the story identified him as Lighthart, easily recognizable by his distinctive handlebar mustache.
Seattle Detective Tina Drain of the police missing persons unit said an estranged sister of Lighthart provided an expired passport and driver’s license, Social Security card, and other identification that have since been given to Lighthart.
The investigation has left “no doubt’’ that the mystery man is Lighthart, Drain said.
But that hasn’t sunk in yet for Lighthart.
Since his discharge from the hospital Aug. 24, he says he has been receiving counseling through Harborview Medical Center and living in a respite home. That temporary housing ends this week, he said, and although he is looking at another possible residence, he doesn’t know where he will stay after that.
“I’ll probably be going back to Discovery Park,’’ he said. “I’ve talked to the social worker at Harborview, and the only thing she’s suggesting is a shelter and I said that I am terrified of the idea, I am terrified of being assaulted.’’
Susan Gregg-Hanson, Harborview spokeswoman, said that Lighthart is continuing to receive outpatient care at the hospital and that it is working with him to find a solution for housing.
Gregg-Hanson declined to comment further, citing federal privacy laws.