Woman Paralyzed on Flight Regains Sensation

(McAllen, TX) -- A South Texas Woman was paralyzed after breaking her back and neck on a turbulent flight early Saturday morning.  On Wednesday, her doctor said she is regaining sensation after a couple of operations.

“She underwent 6 hours of surgery Saturday and a more than 5-hour operation late Tuesday,” Dr. Trey Fulp, orthopedic surgeon said.  “If she walks again, I get the first dance.”

Ramon Garcia, the woman’s attorney, said severe storms came through the Houston area on Friday night. The 1 hour flight was delayed more than 3 hours because of the weather.  Turbulence during the flight caused her to hit her head on the bathroom ceiling.  The woman doesn’t want to be mentioned by name.
“Either in the bathroom or coming out of that bathroom is when the situation occurred,” Garcia said. 

Fulp said another doctor was on board.  That physician noticed the woman couldn’t stand up.  He watched over her until the plane landed 20 minutes later.

“It’s a good thing there was another doctor on the flight because the woman was in serious critical condition.”        
Continental spokeswoman Mary Clark confirmed the flight -- with 5 crew members and 104 passengers -- faced turbulence.  A crew member and 2 passengers were taken to a hospital in McAllen.

“Seatbelt lights were illuminated during the turbulence,” Clark said.  “It’s not clear whether the passenger was already out of her seat when the light came on or whether she ignored the light and got up to go to the bathroom.

Meanwhile, 1 passenger still remains in the hospital.  Federal Aviation Authorities are examining the flight.  The Federal Aviation Administration says it’s providing pertinent flight information to the National Transportation Safety Board.  Christopher Reeve experienced the same paralysis injury when he fell off his horse in 1995.









NJ Teen Drivers Tagged With Decal in 2010

(Trenton, N.J.) -- Governor Corzine signed a law on Wednesday, April 15, requiring drivers under the age of 21 to have identifying decals on their vehicle.  The law will take effect in 2010.

“The decal will probably be a small reflective rectangle attached to the front and rear license plates to help police enforce restrictions on probationary drivers,” Jim Robbins, Motor Vehicle Official, said.

Pam Fischer, Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Safety, says police will use the identifying decals to see whether teens are violating passenger restrictions and state curfews.

“Authorities will not use the decals to target young drivers or pull them over for no reason,” she said.

Motor Vehicle officials say that the decals could possibly have a velcro backing.  This will allow for other drivers using the same car to remove it.

“It will probably be nondescript and simple, and probably won’t even be noticed by the public at large,” Janet Morales, Motor Vehicle Official, said.

Fischer says other restrictions will entail allowing one other teen passenger in the car and changing the curfew from midnight to 11 p.m.  Cell phone use will also be banned.

“These restrictions are in place because they represent the things we know put teens at risk," Fischer said.

The death of a Morris County sixteen-year-old student in 2006 is the cause of the New Jersey Decal law.  A spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic says New Jersey is the first state to have the decal.  Delaware and Connecticut are also considering a decal for drivers under the age of 21. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2007, 61 percent of teen passenger deaths were in vehicles driven by other teens. 

In the words of Ron Gesualdo, owner of Gene's Driving School in Matawan. “The decals are long overdue and will save lives."