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Former Miss America Says Moscow Airport Mugging Left Her ‘Helpless’

October 22, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ Former Miss America Bess Myerson says she lay ″helpless on the airport floor″ after a mugging in Moscow that left her with a broken leg.

Myerson, 66, who in 1945 became the first Jewish Miss America, had been in the Soviet Union helping Jewish children and fighting anti-Semitism.

She was in good condition at Lenox Hill Hospital, recuperating from her injury two weeks ago.

Myerson said Monday from the hospital a band of thieves at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport yanked her shoulder bag with a force that spun her and sent her crashing to the floor, breaking her right leg in three places.

″When I went down, I knew I had cracked my leg,″ Myerson said. ″There I was, lying helpless on the airport floor, with nobody to talk to, and unable to move.″

She said she saw no police and people walked by her ″like it was a daily occurrence, like I was a homeless, stretched out on the floor.

″Finally a nice, big, burly Russian guy came over, lifted me off the floor and took me to the medical room, which was shameful, shabby, small, badly attended - just shocking,″ Myerson said.

″I communicated by screaming a lot, in pain. I told them I needed a piece of wood next to my leg and to wrap it in something,″ she said.

Myerson insisted on being taken to the American Embassy. The embassy’s influence landed her in an elite Moscow hospital used by high government officials. Yet Myerson said her treatment there was ″dangerous″ and she developed a blood clot.

John Ohta, press attache for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, said he could confirm only that Myerson ″was treated briefly for a broken leg, and when she was able to travel, she left.″

A crime wave at the Moscow airport has prompted President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to order a security crackdown.

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