Doctor: Girl Burned in Motor Home Blast Needs Faith, Luck to Recover
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A teen-age girl severely burned in a Mexico motor home explosion that killed seven family members will need faith and a little luck to get her through an uncertain recovery, her doctor said Thursday.
Rose Garcia, 14, of La Puente, Calif., was in critical condition with second- and third-degree burns over more than 60 percent of her body, officials said. The blast last weekend killed her mother, four brothers, a cousin and a distant aunt.
Dr. A. Richard Grossman, a plastic surgeon and burn specialist who treated comedian Richard Pryor, said Rose will undergo the first of many surgeries Saturday in the months-long process to control infection and restore her skin.
″The best thing she’s got going for her is her age and her faith, and a belief that somebody is going to watch over her,″ Grossman told reporters at Sherman Oaks Hospital, where he heads the burn center.
The girl was responding to simple offers for pain medication but could not talk because of a tracheal tube.
Grossman said he was waiting for the appropriate time to tell the girl about the deaths of her relatives.
″I don’t lie to people,″ he said. ″Once she’s able to hear and understand it and the child psychiatrists and the people working with her, and the nurses especially, tell me it’s time, and then I will tell her.″
The motor home in which Rose was riding burst into flames as the family headed across northern Mexico on a vacation that was to take an elderly aunt to visit her native Yucatan Peninsula for first time in 32 years. A faulty butane stove was apparently to blame, police said.
Killed were Rose’s mother, Gina Garcia; her four brothers, ages 15, 10, 8 and 4; a cousin, Marissa Ocampo; and an aunt, 85-year-old Serafina Quintal, family members said.
Two other people survived with minor to moderate burns: Rose’s father, Jose Garcia, and a cousin.
In Monterrey, Mexico, the cousin, Jose Julio Ocampo, whose sister is Marissa Ocampo, was being treated for burns at the San Jose Hospital where he was ″doing very well″ and may be released this week, said Dr. Noe Maldonado.
Jose Ocampo, 19, had not yet talked about the accident, said his brother, Alfredo Ocampo of Guadalajara, Mexico.
″Sunday and Monday he was tense. He was very depressed over the deaths,″ said Alfredo Ocampo. ″Now he seems a little better.″
Bob Gibbons, a spokesman at the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey, said the remains of the seven who were killed were at the San Jose Chapel in Monterrey, awaiting transfer to the United States.
Augustin Chavez Valdez, director of the chapel, said the remains were cremated.
In Los Angeles, meanwhile, the public responded to pleas from the family and friends for help in paying funeral costs. Members of the Mexican immigrant family had said they wanted to bury the dead in the United States but couldn’t afford it.
Rose’s medical costs were covered by her immediate family’s insurance policy, said Grossman.
A local news radio station coordinating a memorial fund started receiving checks Thursday morning and Mexicana Airlines agreed to transport the victims’ remains to the United States. Bill Yeager, program director of KFWB-AM, said the station had received pledges for thousands of dollars.
Donations to The Garcia Family Fund can be sent to KFWB, Hollywood, Ca. 90028. Phone number: 213-462-5392.