Sunday, August 23, 2015

Without health insurance, USF student hurt in Cuba crash can't return home

Without health insurance, USF student hurt in Cuba crash can't return home
By Kathleen McGrory and Laura C. Morel, Times Staff Writers
Saturday, August 22, 2015 7:33pm

The daughter of Cuban parents, Barbara Jimenez has dreams of attending
law school after graduating from the University of South Florida. She
wants to be a litigation lawyer.

But earlier this month, she and her boyfriend, John Fox, were seriously
injured in a car crash while visiting her family in Cuba. And because
she doesn't have health insurance, she can't return to the United States
for care. Flying her back could cost tens of thousands of dollars, her
family said.

Days after the wreck, Fox, an engineer in Melbourne, was airlifted from
Havana to Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital, his family said, where he
is recovering from his injuries.

Jimenez's parents, Daisy Falcon and Jorge Jimenez of Immokalee, traveled
to Cuba last week to be with her.

"I wish we could take her back. This isn't easy," Jorge said Saturday
afternoon while sitting next to his daughter's hospital bed. "I feel so
frustrated. The truth is this is the hardest thing that has ever
happened to me in my life."

Fox, 23, and Jimenez, 22, arrived in Havana Aug. 3 and had planned to
spend a few days with her family in San Jose, a town about 40 minutes
away from the island's capital. An aunt and cousin met them at the
airport. They hired a taxi cab, a 1952 Chevrolet, to take them to San Jose.

About 30 minutes into their trip, a truck slammed into the car. The taxi
driver died at the scene, while Jimenez, Fox, and her two relatives were
taken to local hospitals with serious injuries, according to Cuban news

Caridad Jimenez arrived the day after her sister's crash.

"Just seeing her laying there, a lifeless body in a coma," she said
through tears. "It was really bad."

Barbara was in a coma for about five days, her sister said. She has
since regained consciousness and can breathe on her own, but sustained
head trauma and struggles to speak. She writes to communicate.

"She gets out of breath because she had a tracheotomy," said Caridad,
who returned from Cuba on Wednesday. "She's so weak that she can't get
up on her own. She gets so frustrated."

Barbara is a member of the Beta Gamma Chapter of Lambda Theta Alpha
Latin Sorority, which is fundraising in hopes that she can be brought to
Florida for treatment.

Fox's father, Jim Fox, said his son has a cerebral fracture, a broken
hip, a shattered orbital plate, and also had a stroke. But despite the
injuries, he is making "extraordinary progress," Fox said.

"We thought he might have complete right-side paralysis, but he moved
his arm and his leg. He lifted his arm and he scratched his face," he
said. "It's a strange thing. They go over to Cuba. They happen to be in
a '52 Chevy in a country where most of the cars don't have air bags. ...
It's hard to understand."

Barbara's cousin and aunt underwent surgery and are now in stable condition.

"It's amazing they even survived this," Caridad said.

Barbara, who lives in Tampa, was scheduled to graduate from the
University of South Florida with a bachelor's degree in philosophy this
fall, Caridad said. A politics junkie, she completed a legal internship
earlier this year and has been studying for the LSAT. Barbara wants to
attend Florida State University's law school.

"My sister has been on such a good path in the past year," Caridad said.
"She's been doing so much."

Contact Laura C. Morel at Follow @lauracmorel.

How to help

The Beta Gamma Chapter of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority created a
GoFundMe page for Barbara Jimenez's medical expenses. To donate, visit

Source: Without health insurance, USF student hurt in Cuba crash can't
return home | Tampa Bay Times -

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