The five most seriously injured were flown to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, one of the highest-ranked hospitals in the state for critical care. One of them, Vivica Nguyen, never made it off the operating table.
Dr. MacLong Tran treated them in the emergency room. In a lucky twist on an unlucky night, Dr. Tran, the ER's one Vietnamese staff physician, happened to be on duty. He was able to communicate with patients who spoke no English.
On Monday afternoon, he left the ER to check up on them.
"I have a personal interest in this," said Tran, who is from Houston. "A couple people here are distant relatives."
Scott Tran, a 31-year-old interior designer who was injured in the crash, is Dr. Tran's friend's wife's cousin.
Dr. Tran stopped by the room where Scott Tran lay resting from a brief bout of physical therapy — his first time standing up since he arrived at the hospital. The two men spoke in Vietnamese as a chest tube pumped blood from Tran's collapsed lung.
Of the Parkland patients, Tran fared among the best.
Nguyen, the hospital's one casualty, was Scott Tran's wife.
"Me and my wife were asleep. I woke up and all the people in the bus fell to one side," he recalled of the Friday-morning crash. "I keep trying to pull my wife out and she says, 'Help me! Help me! I'm going to die!' I say, 'It's OK, I'm going to help.'"
Nguyen was wedged against the side of the bus amid the throng of passengers.
"She was stuck in the chair or something. There were people on top of her. It was people locked together," Scott Tran said.
Although the pair went to the same hospital, the widower did not learn until Sunday that his wife had died. Their two children, ages 4 and 9, stayed home in Houston with Nguyen's parents. He has not spoken to the children yet.
He still wore his thin gold wedding band Monday.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Recovery process continues for bus crash victims
Today's Houston Chronicle features an update on the progress of those injured in Friday's bus crash, which killed 17 people traveling to the annual Marian Days observance in Carthage: