LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – While briefly off sedation, Guillermo Gama III grabbed his mother’s hand.
Doctors say he does not need brain surgery. To his family, these are the glimmers of hope in an otherwise dark time.
“We’re extremely blessed and grateful that he’s here with us still,” said Jennifer Cantu, his aunt.
Gama, 23, was rushed to Lakeland Regional Health in Florida after the vehicle he was riding in collided with a train in Plant City on Saturday evening.
Gama’s family was waiting for him to arrive at a quinceañera celebration. He was riding in a car with others planning to go to the party, and he had just texted his family that he was almost there. Then his family heard about an accident and thought Gama was stuck behind it.
“When he didn’t answer and he wasn’t responding to none of us, we all just kind of felt it inside. My mom, which is his grandma, she took off down there,” Cantu said.
Gama is the sole survivor in the crash that claimed the lives of six people: Jose G. Hernandez, 52; Enedelia Hernandez, 50; Jakub A. Lopez, 17; Alyssa Hernandez, 17; Anaelia Hernandez, 22; and Julian Hernandez, 9.
Anaelia Hernandez was Gama’s girlfriend of about one year.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Gama’s injuries include a brain bleed, ruptured kidney and bruised lung. He is expected to survive.
“We know if he does somewhat remember, he will be asking for his girlfriend so that’s when the questions are going to start,” Cantu said.
Cantu is hoping Gama can remember some moments from before the crash, including how the other people in the car were feeling and what they were talking about, to provide some closure to the family.
“It’s just devastating for all of us, for everything,” Cantu said. “They’re praying for us and we’re praying for them.”
“It’s very emotional and it’s shocking and still very unbelievable. There’s no words for this. None,” said Leticia Hernandez, who had traveled up from Miami to be with family. Hernandez is the niece of Jose Hernandez, who was driving at the time of the crash.
Hernandez said the family had visited the crash site to see if any of their loved ones’ belongings could be recovered. They were able to find a piece of jewelry belonging to her younger cousin.
Hernandez said her uncle’s priority was his wife and children.
“I think everybody’s in a state of shock right now,” she said. “It’s unheard of when you lose everybody at one time. There are no survivors to his will or testimony so we’re trying to figure out exactly what they all wanted.”
Jose Hernandez, according to his niece, was a truck driver.
“Career driver, so I’m sure he had over 4 million miles under his belt. A safe driver, so something like this is something we can’t explain. How could it have happened?” she said.