When Angela Sartin-Hartung woke up from a medically induced coma after being hit by an NYPD car in 2013, her perception of time was off and her memories were seemingly erased. She couldn’t remember the death of her first husband, tying the knot with her second or watching her four children grow up. She thought the man she’d shared vows with over a decade ago, Jeff Hartung, was the doctor in her hospital room. But after five years of falling back in love with him, and getting reacclimated to her life, Sartin-Hartung and Hartung are to be remarried this June in Central Park.
The now-55-year-old Oklahoma native had been living on the Upper East Side at the time of the accident — she'd moved there with her daughter who began training with the SLK Ballet company. Around 6:00 p.m. on October 25, 2013, Sartin-Hartung was hit by an NYPD car in a crosswalk at York Ave and 72nd St.
When Sartin-Hartung collided with the car, her head struck the windshield, causing blunt force trauma, reported DNAinfo. She was then sent into the intersection, which knocked out her teeth and fractured her skull. This, her husband told the site, kept her in the Columbia-Presbyterian ICU for four weeks, and she spent another month at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Rehab totalled to nearly six months, but to this day, it's still a process.
Sartin-Hartung’s lawyer, Daniel Flanzig, told The New York Daily News last fall they’d obtained videos showing that, though she rushed across the intersection, "she was clearly visible in the crosswalk," and witnesses were able to testify. The vehicle also reportedly didn’t have its lights on prior to the collision. Out of a 2017 settlement, Sartin-Hartung received $2 million from the city.
Getting remarried after a rekindled love
Recovery was difficult.
Sartin-Hartung lost her ability to drive and other cognitive functions after the accident — and replacing lost memories deemed the most difficult obstacle to overcome.
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"It was hard and emotional," Hartung told The Daily News of his wife's slow recovery. "Our first conversation was in pieces. We'd connect a few things, then she'd forget, and we had to repeat everything all over again. ...We've had to develop all new connections for us as a couple."
Before plans of getting remarried, they spent time going on walks, taking Pilates classes and doing everything they could to rekindle their bond. And Hartung remains determined to piece things back together for his wife.
Take, for instace, if they're out in public and see someone Sartin-Hartung thinks she may have known pre-accident. He'll "go up and say, 'Hi, I'm Jeff and this is my wife Angela. She feels like she knows you. Do you know us?'"
"Almost from the day she was hit to today," Hartung said he was told that a marriage in which a spouse suffers from traumatic brain injury usually ends in divorce, "but my love for my wife has seen me through."
Sartin-Hartung was reportedly diagnosed with leukemia last year but continues to focus on her progress.
As for the ceremony, Sartin-Hartung said she’s excited to get remarried to her husband. "My memory is still completely gone, and it takes me a lot to remember to get excited about things, but I have pictures all over the house of Jeff and me, and he's just such an awesome man. It makes me cry."
"Angela doesn't like calling it a 'wedding' or a 'honeymoon,' because we're already married," Hartung explained. "She's very technical." But, whatever you choose to call it, the couple is moving forward together — forever onward.