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August 8, 2003     Cape Gazette
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August 8, 2003

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62 - CAPE GAZE'PrE, Friday, Aug. 8 - Aug. 14, 2003 Brain-injured foreign student rouses from coma following crash Help needed for recovery process,, By Kerry Kester Her face is partially paralyzed. She doesn't know where she is or how she got there. She forgot how to speak English, and she only recently recalled her name and remembered her mother. Lina Vaitiekunaites, 22, of Lithuania, is the victim of a hit- and-run crash. She was tiding her bicycle along Route 1, June 26, when a motorist struck her, sending her on a 50-foot sailing trip that stopped abruptly when her crumpled body landed on the concrete highway. Vaitiekunaites was not wearing a helmet and sustained serious head injuries. For the fh'st two weeks of her stay ,at Christianit Hospital, she lay inert in an in- jury-induced coma. Physicians induced an additional week's co- ma to allow her brain and her body a little more healing time. There was no one there to hold her hand or to speak to her. "She was all alone for three weeks," said Vatalia Duncia, a member of the Lithuanian-American Com- munity in northern Delaware and the Philadelphia area. When members of the Lithuan- ian-American Community Inc. learned of Vaitiekunaites' plight, they rallied to lend support. Peo- ple took turns visiting her at the hospital and initiating communi- cation with Vaitiekunaites' moth- er. What Duncia learned is the situation was even worse than she imagined. Vaitiekunaites' 68-year-old mother has a serious heart illness and other physical problems that prevented her from flying to the United States to be at her daugh- ter's bedside. "Tearfully, Lina's mother says that the only thing she can do is go to church and pray all day for her daughter's re- covery and eventual return:' said John V. Duncia, Lithuanian- American Community member. "She's an old and sick woman," said Vatalia Duncia. "She's so heartbroken. If you ask her any- can't get answers...she just breaks down and cries." The Duncias learned Vaitieku- naites borrowed money to travel to the Cape Region so she could earn money for her college stud- ies at Vilnius University in Lithuania, where she was study- Lina Vaitiekunaites, a Lithuanian foreign student who was working in Re- hoboth Beach this summer, is shown in happier days be- fore the crash that left her severely injured. ing journalism. The Duncias be- lieve the estimated cost of the travel loan, in U.S. dollars, is about $1,500. Ramune Stupuraite, 24, a Lithuanian who is working at the beach for the summer, said Lithuanians earn significantly higher salaries in the United States than they would at home. Just for her first month, she said, Stupuraite earned approximately 1,200 percent more money to help with her schooling and other ex- penses. Vaitiekunaites gained em- ployment with Chip Heam, who owns Peppers, The Ice Cream Store and Utter Delight. "She worked at all three of my compa- nies," said Hearn. "She's a good kid." Hearn said she was a very hard worker and always asked what more she could do. He said he was saddened to hear of her tragedy, and it also distressed his other Lithuanian employees. "The worst part is the insurance has run out, but part is the hospital is continuing to care for her," said Heam, noting the Staic Department requires foreign workers to carry a certain sum of insurance. Vatalia Duncia said as of Aug. 5, Vaitiekunaites knew her own name for five consecutive days. Duncia sees that as a positive, even though Vaitiekunaites still doesn't understand where she is or how she got there. "We are telling, but she forgets again," said Duncia, noting short-term memory loss is among Vaitieku- nares' problems. "When I asked her my name [July 26], she didn't know," said Stupuraite. "It was almost impos- sible to tall to her. She wasn't understandable." Vaitiekunaites seems to be making progress with her long- term memory, Duncia said. "She's starting to remember her friends in Rehoboth. It's hard to know how well she's processing information, however. "She can- not talk sentences, and she mixes her words." Several weeks ago, Duncia Continued Poem Continued from page 61 gas, gas," Under seven seconds to don and clear the mask. In their spare time, sand bags needed to be f'flled, For safety's sake, Scud Bunkers needed to be built. The war finally started, and the Marines moved in, Like they did in Afghanistan, looking for Bin Laden. Baghdad, El Kooth and El Bas- ra were all taken one by one, There was never a doubt this war will be won. One more city needed to fall, Saddam's hometown of Tekrit, Hopefully, he lived just long enough to taste the defeat. Some of duties, too barbaric to tell, Everything we did was just, "We will not end up in Hell." The war is now won and the events are just a memory, Those of us that were there, played a big part in the victory. Let's not forget about the sacri- fice our loved ones made back home, Without their love and Support, we could not have done this alone. Back at home we explain to our children why they have freedom, Explaining to them they could be called too, if their country needed them. The very freedom that a United States citizen enjoys, Comes from thousands of U.S. Marines being forward deployed. Have you ever wondered, with HIV?" Now is the time No needles used. No excuses HIV testing. It's free. It's :i Cxam0000 Come to get tested or just to tal =:ii!t s For other HIV testing sites in Delaware, HIWSTD Hotline at (800) 422-0429. Prevention really is the best mecEcine... for you and all those you love. CAMP Rehoboth 13021 227-5620 : Day and evening by appointment. Drop-in Sussex County AIDS Committee 1302) 1 Day and evening by appointment. DrOp-in "]lI-'ImlH[II it "l T T' i:lqll [LII IHMnlI['T'T'FIIIIHTI|IIIItI., illl If IIHilllll[] --''''] v "=]--