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Young Irish Woman Recoving from Critical Injuries in St. Pat’s Day Accident

April 1, 1988

CHICAGO (AP) _ A 22-year-old Irishwoman, critically injured in a St. Patrick’s Day traffic accident during a trip here, is awake after 10 days in a coma and is exchanging smiles with visitors, officials and friends say.

Margaret Hanley was listed in fair condition Thursday, said Anita Robins, a spokeswoman at Weiss Memorial Hospital.

″They’re saying very little, except the doctor is saying she’s becoming a little more alert,″ Ms. Robins said.

Gerry Archbold, a director of the Irish-American Heritage Center, said that when he visited Miss Hanley on Tuesday, ″she was conscious and a smile came to her face. She recognizes voices, but she has a long way to go after this.″

An aspiring actress in Dublin, Miss Hanley came to the United States in February to visit her jailed boyfriend and had planned to return home March 18. She was on her way to buy a bottle of milk March 17 when she was hit by a car.

She was conscious in the ambulance and joked with attendants about not being able to dance for a while, but then lapsed into a coma.

A broken leg created a blockage in blood vessels carrying oxygen to her brain, said Miss DeWitt. Doctors didn’t know how long the woman had a diminished supply of oxygen from the blood clot.

″There’s hope she will recover fully, but it’s too early to say,″ nursing supervisor Dorothy DeWitt said Wednesday. ″The fact that she has been up and talking is a very, very good sign.″

Another nursing supervisor, Nancy Durbin, said Miss Hanley attempts to talk, mouthing her words.

The nurse said she does not know if the young woman has mentioned Daniel Stokes, an Irish immigrant to America whom she met last year when he was back in Ireland for a visit.

Stokes, 21, now is in Cook County Jail, charged with first-degree murder, residential burglary, armed robbery, home invasion and possession of a stolen vehicle. He is accused of killing his landlord and has pleaded innocent.

Archbold said the Irish-American center helped ease the way for the woman’s parents, Stephen and Ann Hanley, who flew to this country when they learned of the accident. He attributed her improvement to the prayers of sympathizers.

″We prayed hard for her. There were special prayers during the Palm Sunday Mass at the center,″ Archbold said. ″Just shortly after the Mass was over, she started to regain consciousness.″

Miss Hanley’s room has assumed a more cheerful atmosphere, filled with stuffed animals sent by well-wishers.

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