Car crash in Cuba has local tie

By Alexandra Newman -

TAMPA, Fla. — A vacation in Cuba for the grandson of a Sidney couple didn’t go as he and his girlfriend had planned.

John Fox, 23, of Florida, who is the grandson of Mary and David Durbin, of Sidney, and his girlfriend, Barbara Jimenez, 22, of Tampa, Florida, arrived in Havana Aug. 3, and had planned to spend a few days with her family in San Jose. An aunt and cousin met them at the airport. They hired a taxi cab, a 1952 Chevrolet, to take them to San Jose.

About 30 minutes into their trip, a truck slammed into the car. The taxi driver died at the scene, while Jimenez, Fox and her two relatives were taken to local hospitals with serious injuries, according to Cuban news outlets.

Jimenez, 22, of Tampa, Florida, was stranded in Cuba for almost a month after slipping into a coma.

For reasons that weren’t immediately clear, Fox and the Cuban Jimenez family members were taken to a different Havana hospital than Barbara, according to a GoFundMe page set up by Jimenez’s sorority sisters.

Fox, an engineer in Melbourne, Florida, suffered a cerebral fracture, broken hip and had a stroke. Thanks to efforts by his employer and staff at the recently reopened U.S. embassy in Cuba, Fox was transported to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, on Aug. 8, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Fox also has a few other family members live in Ohio.

Mary said her grandson is a really nice young man and a fun loving guy who is the oldest of five siblings. His mother is a teacher and his father is a lawyer in Naples, Florida.

Jimenez woke up from her coma five days after the accident but at first wasn’t able to breathe on her own, nor did she understand why she was in a hospital. Her condition improved steadily over the next couple of weeks.

Not having any health insurance, her family was told that it would cost them $50,000 to transport her back to Florida, money her parents did not have. As news traveled of Jimenez’s situation, her sorority sisters at the University of Southern Florida’s Lambda Theta Alpha set up a GoFundMe for medical bills and to bring her back.

This weekend she was brought back to the U.S. after a private medical airlift company, JET I.C.U., stepped forward to help after hearing her story, according to the Miami Herald. The two-hour round trip flight would normally cost $15,000 to $20,000, but the company did it for free. Jimenez was then taken to Tampa General Hospital.

As of Thursday morning, Fox still has a long way to go in his recovery, said his father, Jim Fox. He has had multiple surgeries and is back in the intensive care unit.

He said Jimenez is improving much faster. She is walking a little bit and beginning therapy.

By Alexandra Newman

Reach this writer at 937-538-4825; follow on Twitter @SDNAlexandraN

Reach this writer at 937-538-4825; follow on Twitter @SDNAlexandraN