Just hours into her family visit to Cuba, USF student Barbara Jimenez found herself in the center of a taxi crash that took the life of the driver and seriously injured her boyfriend and family.
Jimenez’s boyfriend, John Fox, was airlifted to Jacksonville days later to receive medical care in the U.S., but when her parents tried to get the same treatment for her, the 22-year-old’s lack of health care coverage meant her parents would have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to get her back. Jimenez currently remains stranded in Cuba until she recovers.
The family and friends of Barbara Jimenez have been forced to find a way to bring their daughter back to the U.S. from Cuba, which is only 90 miles away from the Florida Keys.
Her sister, Caridad Jimenez, said she heard about the accident the day it happened, and she arrived in Cuba the day after. When she arrived, her sister was in a coma and could only breath because she had received an emergency tracheotomy.
Jimenez remained in a coma for five days and was unable to speak for several days. Recently, she regained the ability to speak and Caridad is encouraged by her improvements.
“She sounds so amazing; she’s able to talk clearly,” she said in a phone interview with The Oracle. “When I talked to her two or three days ago, when she regained her voice… her voice was thin and very weak and she wasn’t really making sense.”
Jimenez suffered “severe head trauma,” but her sister said she did not have to receive an invasive procedure, like brain surgery. Because of her fragile condition, Jimenez has not been able to return to the U.S. by commercial airline, and none of the companies that her family have reached out to have been willing to airlift her for less than $50,000, according to her sister.
Needless to say, Jimenez’s parents don’t have so much money to spend, so her sorority, Lambda Theta Alpha, created a crowd funding website to aid in the effort.
“Bring Barbie Home,” proclaims a link on the Facebook page of USF’s Beta Gamma chapter of the sorority. Below it, the link to the GoFundMe page sports a photo of Jimenez and Fox.
Though the goal is far from reached, both the sorority and Jimenez’s family will continue in the effort to bring the young woman home.
As of Sunday evening, the GoFundMe page, available at gofundme.com/cjf87sdy, has raised more than $8,742.