Motorcycle Accident Victim in Coma Identified, Improving
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ An unidentified woman who was in a coma since a Sept. 13 motorcycle accident has been found by her family, and her doctor said Wednesday that her condition has improved.
The parents of Julianne Walters said their daughter seemed to recognize them when they visited her.
″I feel she knew,″ said her father, Gerry Sartor. ″She patted my face.″
Although Ms. Walters, 28, still is not fully conscious, she is responding to outside stimuli and is no longer in a coma, said Dr. Edward Hoffman.
Ms. Walters’ three children, aged 2 to 10, visited her Tuesday night, and her mother, Sandy Sartor, said she believed her daughter recognized them as well. The children live with the Sartors because Ms. Walters is divorced.
The woman was struck by a car last month after she and a male companion had pulled their motorcycle off a highway north of Hoquiam. The man rode off after the woman was struck.
The Sartors, of Port Orchards, went to St. Peter Hospital on Tuesday and identified their daughter, said Bill Burkett of the Washington State Patrol.
″It’s a relief to know where she is,″ Sartor said.
Burkett paid tribute to the news media for helping locate the parents. The Sartors read an Associated Press story, based on reports from the Aberdeen Daily World, in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he said.
He said the patrol logged at least 200 inquiries before it stopped counting. The hospital received about 60 calls on Tuesday ″from people who were hoping against hope it would be their loved one. People have been calling from all over the country,″ he said.
Before declaring the mystery solved, the patrol wants to compare dental charts, Burkett said.
″They are absolutely convinced it’s their daughter, and we have no reason to doubt them,″ he said in an interview. ″But to be professional about it, to cross the T’s and dot the I’s, we will wait for the confirmation.″
Hoffman said the hospital plans to move Ms. Walters next week to Good Samaritan Hospital Rehabilitation Center in Puyallup.
Sartor said he forgives the motorcycle driver who abandoned his daughter after the accident.
″He should seek God and come forward. We forgive him and I know God would,″ he said.
Ms. Walters, who lived in Lake Quinalt, had not seen her children since February but loved them very much and called home every month, Sartor said.
″I believe the Lord’s going to take her through the rest of this,″ he said.