Twenty months after nightlife promoter Michael Capponi nearly died in a boat crash in Miami Beach that was caught on video and replayed millions of times worldwide, his body has recovered but his mind is still reeling.
That’s mostly because, says Capponi, he has yet to see and touch and talk to his then-girlfriend Brooke Biederman, the boat’s other occupant.
“She is my soulmate,” Capponi, 42, says of Brooke. “And she called me hers. So I made it my mission in life to let her know the truth about our relationship and love.”
The accident sent Biederman into a three-week coma.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
According to public records, she also lost much of her short-term memory. Her mother said in a deposition in a post-crash insurance lawsuit she can’t remember anything between her college graduation and waking up in the hospital — this, despite months at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston to learn how to walk and talk again.
And although she has almost fully recovered by now, Capponi insists Brooke is still missing her memories of life with him and their coterie of friends in Miami.
Capponi maintains she forgot about first meeting him outside the Fontainebleau Miami Beach resort on May 24, 2014. She was a tourist, and a mutual friend suggested she meet him to ask him about the cool things to do in the area.
She may also have forgotten about their charity trips to Haiti on behalf of Capponi’s Global Empowerment Mission in December 2014.
They also lived together in Key Biscayne. But because she worried about her parents’ reaction, Brooke kept her relationship with Capponi a secret.
Yet, Capponi says, she has not responded to two dozen often-lyrical love letters.
So, to keep his own memories fresh, Capponi drives monthly to the dock in Islamorada where he says they fell in love. Capponi says he lights a candle and stares at the ocean in meditation. Often, he cries.
“There is no harder test in life than to have the love of your life in a coma and face a family that doesn’t allow me to hold her hand,” he says. “Since then, she has run into people she knew when she was with me and she looks at them with a blank stare.
“It’s pretty obvious she doesn’t remember anything from that time of her life.”
Through occasional contacts between Susan Biederman and Capponi’s lawyer in Miami, Capponi believes the family blames him for the crash and took advantage of Brooke’s state to erase all evidence of his existence.
And Brooke’s mother, he says, has threatened to get authorities involved if he tried to contact her.
Miami business development director Linda Uribe, who befriended Brooke after she started dating Capponi, described them as “perfectly in love.”
“I was at the hospital hours after the crash,” Uribe said. “And it was obvious they were very much in love for the months before the accident. Brooke always worried how her parents would react when they’d find out about them, which they did at the hospital.
“Michael is a lot older, and he is very open about his heroin past. There’s no doubt in my mind that Brooke’s parents have removed her completely simply because they don’t approve of him.”
So Capponi recently decided to fight back within legal boundaries: He has taken to Facebook to publish for anyone to see excerpts of his 24 unanswered letters to Brooke. His hope is that she will eventually see them and, possibly, remember.
Biederman’s family declined comment and hired New York public relations firm owner Joe Carella to return the call. He eventually issued a statement he said came directly from Brooke Biederman: “This terrible accident is in the past, and with the tremendous support of my medical team, family, friends and professional colleagues, I have moved on with my life.”
Carella declined to make her available for an interview.