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Mystery Prospect Park Jogger Identified as Vegan Author

By Leslie Albrecht | January 7, 2014 10:10pm
 Police have identified this man who collapsed while jogging in Prospect Park Dec. 31, 2013.
Police have identified this man who collapsed while jogging in Prospect Park Dec. 31, 2013.
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BROOKLYN — The mystery man who's been unconscious since collapsing in Prospect Park more than a week ago has been identified by a relative as Rynn Berry, a police source said.

Berry's half-brother Charles identified him at New York Methodist Hospital on Tuesday evening, the source said.

Berry, 68, who lives in Prospect Heights, has been in the intensive care unit since he collapsed while jogging in Prospect Park on Dec. 31. He was found in running clothes and sneakers and was carrying an inhaler, but no identification, sources said.

Berry is the author of "The Vegan Guide to New York City" and "Famous Vegetarians and Their Favorite Recipes." Though Berry lives alone, there's a wide circle of people in the vegetarian community who consider him a family member, said Martin Rowe, who's been a friend of Berry's for almost 20 years.

"He has a lot of people who are thinking about him and concerned about his welfare," Rowe said.

Berry is a regular runner despite suffering from asthma that gives him a noticeable wheeze, Rowe said. He completed the New York City Marathon in 1979, records show.

The story of his collapse while jogging sent chills through the running community.

After a doctor at New York Methodist Hospital alerted employees at the JackRabbit Sports running store about the situation, the shop notified local running groups to spread the word.

Merchandise Director Johanna Bjorken even offered to search the store's database for hospital officials to see if she could find names of people who had bought the gear Berry was wearing. "There have been a number of times when I haven’t run with an ID," Bjorken said. "I know I’m not supposed to, but it’s like, 'Oh, what’s going to happen?.' This is what can happen. I’m going to be much more careful about it in the future."

When police released a photo of Berry in his hospital bed with a breathing tube down his throat, runners across the city mounted an online effort to track down his loved ones.

Racing clubs and track groups sent out email blasts and Tweets with the story. New York Road Runners CEO Mary Wittenberg tweeted, "Pls read & c if u recognize this runner!" on Tuesday.

Another runner implored others who jog in the park to get involved. "I run in Prospect Park a lot. Do you? Let's help find this runner's family!" tweeted @TheLivingRoomBK.

"It’s very sobering and a reminder to always run with a partner and to carry some ID, even if it’s just your name and an emergency contact number," NYC Runs spokesman Paul Nelson told DNAinfo New York.