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Parents of boy in coma gaining renewed hope


© St. Petersburg Times, published June 17, 2000

After their son had three brain surgeries and showed little improvement, Maria DelCarman Yebra and her husband, Lorenzo, decided Tuesday to take him off life support.

Javier, 17, had been in a coma for 15 days. His doctors gave them little hope after he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle without a helmet.

But the very day his parents asked that Javier be removed from the machines, his brain showed a slight increase in activity. His physicians asked that he be given more time.

"We were going to let him go but he had more brain activity, which gave us more hope," said Joanne Hurtado, Javier's aunt, who lives in Pinellas Park.

Now all Hurtado and the Yebras can do is wait.

"Only time will tell," Hurtado said.

The Yebras are staying in temporary housing across from Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, where Javier is in critical condition.

Mrs. Yebra had flown here from Mexico after obtaining an emergency visa that expires July 7. She and her husband, who was working here with her son, are concerned about the medical bills that are piling up. Hurtado estimates they owe the hospital and physicians at least $100,000 for Javier's care. Before the accident, Lorenzo Yebra and Javier worked in restaurants busing tables. They would send their earnings to Mrs. Yebra and Javier's five siblings in Guanajuato, Mexico.

No charges have been filed against Xuyen Duc Diep, 19, of Clearwater, the driver who hit Javier.

Diep was driving below the speed limit through the intersection of U.S. 19 and Drew Street when Javier turned into his path and was hit by Diep's two-door Honda, Clearwater police spokesman Wayne Shelor said.

Diep was on his way home from work and giving a co-worker a ride home. He says the accident haunts him. "I wasn't under the influence. I wasn't speeding. I didn't run any red lights," Diep said. "I still have flashbacks, every time I am on that road, my heart starts beating fast.

"Every time I see people on a bike it just scares me. I feel badly for him. If I could change anything, I would," he said. "I have to face it every day. I have to deal with this for the rest of my life."

Hurtado said she wishes Javier had been wearing a helmet. "The doctors said if Javier would have been wearing a helmet, his injuries would not have been as severe," she said.

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