On October 5, 1973, a four year old boy named Josh Miele was horribly burned when his next-door neighbor poured acid on him.
Colonel Pruitt ran the Brooke Army Medical Center from 1968 until 1995, and still practices today in Texas. He had thousands of patients in those years but remembers Josh and his family quite vividly. “For such a devastating injury, they were very realistic about what to expect,” he said. Josh was burned over 17 percent of his body, with 11 percent third-degree burns, mostly to his face. Colonel Pruitt said his chief goal was to save the boy’s sight. But he knew right away that this was hopeless.
Wendell Jamieson was 7 at the time, and lived just around the corner from the Miele family in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn. He vividly remembered his mother’s warnings after the incident. Nearly 40 years later, Mr. Jamieson is a writer for the NYT: he decided to track down Josh Miele.
Josh Miele is now Dr. Josh Miele. He’s married and has two kids.
Josh has a degree in physics and a Ph.D. in psychoacoustics from the University of California at Berkeley. He took several breaks, years long, while getting his undergraduate degree, and worked full time for the technology company Berkeley Systems on software to help blind people navigate graphics-based computer programs.
He worked for NASA on software for the Mars Observer. He is the president of the board of directors of the San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind. He plays bass in a band. And he works as an associate scientist at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, a nonprofit research center.
He’s also designed maps of the BART system for blind people. His latest project is the “Descriptive Video Exchange”…
…It’s a kind of crowd-sourced service that would allow, for example, a Trekkie to describe a “Star Trek” episode in a way that other devotees would appreciate. The first version, out this month, will work for any video on YouTube.
“It’s not that I don’t want to be written about,” he said. “I’d like to be as famous as the next person would, but I want to be famous for the right reasons, for the work I’ve done, and not for some stupid thing that happened to me 40 years ago.”