A Peruvian man who spent nearly four months in a coma after surviving one of the deadliest car crashes in Ontario history says he has shown significant improvement in the last few weeks but still cannot walk or talk, his sister has told CBC.
Edgar Sulla-Puma is one of three survivors of the Feb. 6 crash in Hampstead, Ont., northeast of Stratford, which killed 11 men. The victims included migrant farm workers in a passenger van and the driver of the truck that collided with their vehicle.
The driver of the 15-seat minivan had failed to stop at a rural intersection and drove into the path of the oncoming transport truck. The men in the van had just finished their first day of work vaccinating chickens at a poultry farm.
Edgar’s sister, Matilde Sulla-Puma, spoke to the CBC’s Ivy Cuervo about his slow recovery.
The 27-year-old was moved to a long-term care facility in Hamilton nearly two months ago to undergo rehabilitation. He was initially airlifted to Hamilton General after the accident, while two other survivors were taken to London, Ont.
Most of Edgar's days are spent in therapy, working to strengthen his muscles. Often, Matilde is by his side, holding the hands of her younger brother and offering words of encouragement.
"I love you so much. Everything is going to be okay," she whispered in Edgar’s ear.
"I don't know how much he understands or if he knows who am I because he can't talk," she told Cuervo.
Edgar has a limited ability to move his left arm. However, he needs help eating.
"His condition is serious. That's why the neurologist told us that he would essentially be a vegetable," his sister said.
Doctors believed Edgar would remain in a persistent vegetative state, but he came out of his coma and opened his eyes in late May.
Matilde said she doesn't like to talk about what happened that day last February. But as her brother remained unconscious she never gave up hoping he would get better.
"Even when my brother was in a coma I never stopped believing in the possibility that God could perform a miracle," she said.
"I tell him he had an accident. I try. But the problem is he can get really anxious and I protect him a lot because of that," Matilde said. "I don't like it when people talk to him about the accident, because he remembers and he gets frustrated."