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Injured sisters doing well

The O.C. girls were on life support after a crash and then in an induced coma, but they are now awake and progressing.

August 22, 2007|David Reyes | Times Staff Writer

Two Garden Grove girls are awake, alert and likely to recover fully despite spending some time on life support after being injured Sunday when their family's car was struck by a driver suspected of being under the influence of marijuana.

Family and physicians said they were amazed that Brittany Figueroa, 11, and her sister, Ariana, 6, were in good condition Tuesday after surviving the accident in Stanton. Both had been in medically induced comas and have made great progress, according to their physician.

"There's always risks any time anyone is given sedation," said Dr. Cristobal Barrios, the attending surgeon. "But it never ceases to amaze me that kids bounce back so easily."

Both girls were placed on life support at UCI Medical Center in Orange after Sunday's accident at Beach Boulevard and Katella Avenue.

David Figueroa, the girls' father, was driving the family's Ford Mustang stopped at a red light when it was hit by a truck driven by a man suspected of being under the influence of marijuana, a sheriff's spokesman said.

Both girls were in the back seat and wearing seat belts. Their mother, Joan, was in the front passenger seat.

"If you were to look at the damage of that Mustang and what the truck did to it, you wouldn't believe these girls would be alive today," Jim Amormino, a sheriff's spokesman.

After victims suffer severe head trauma, there can be swelling and other reactions. Barrios said there was a risk to the procedure of inducing a coma with sedatives.

"But the benefits outweigh the risks because patients can become so agitated they can hurt themselves or make it impossible to be treated," Barrios said.

Once sedated, the girls underwent CAT scans to check for the extent of injury to their brains and their other injuries were assessed.

Barrios said one of the girls had some intracranial bleeding but that it was not as severe as anticipated. They had fractured skulls and each had numerous facial fractures.

The injuries were severe but not as life-threatening as they appeared to be when the girls arrived at the emergency room on Sunday. "We then started lightening up the sedation and checked how they were coming back" into consciousness, Barrios said.

Barrios said he believed the girls would have a full recovery.

David Figueroa, who was released from the hospital after treatment for injuries, said through a hospital spokeswoman that he had thanked God, the hospital staff and well-wishers.

Joseph Manore, 22, of Garden Grove, the truck driver, tested positive for being under the influence of marijuana and was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence, authorities said.

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david.reyes@latimes.com

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