Families Devastated After Hospital Mixes Up Identities of 2 Girls in Car Accident
Filed under: In The News
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After spending nearly a week mourning her death, the family of a teenage girl found out that it was a case of mistaken identity, and she was actually alive. Now the two young women's families are trying to make sense of the tragedy.
Abby Guerra, 19, and Marlena Cantu, 21, were driving back from Disneyland with three other friends when their SUV had a blowout and they got into a car crash. The Guerras were told Abby had died at the scene, but six days later they were told Abby was alive and in critical condition at a Phoenix hospital, "The Early Show" reports.
The Cantu family spent days at the hospital, with the young woman whom they believed was Marlena.
"We were there all week ... day and night," Frank Cantu tells NBC. "I only slept eight hours all week."
Dental records were used to finally identify the injured woman as Guerra, who was in critical condition with a brain injury, broken back, collapsed lung and other injuries.
"You're ecstatic for one -- I mean, it's a miracle, but in the same, you're angry because we've mourned all week," says Guerra's aunt, Dorenda Cisneros.
Finding out their daughter was really dead has been a blow to the Cantu family, says Marlena's friend Colleen Donovan.
"Every day they went [to the hospital] having hope that she's living one more day, then to find out it's not her," Donovan tells the Arizona Republic. "And Abby's parents, too. They've gone through all these emotions, and now they find out she's really alive. Abby still has a struggle to survive."
The Guerra family held a car wash over the weekend to raise money for Abby's funeral, but now the money will go toward her hospital bills and Cantu's funeral.
John Stanley -- athletics director at the University of Evansville, where Guerra plays soccer -- says soccer players who came to Arizona expecting to attend her funeral are now there to support Guerra's family, NBC reports.
"They were grief-stricken to learn of the death because of Abby's popularity," Stanley says. "Now, they understand that the situation is still very critical. They now have gone from planning to go to a funeral ... to having some degree of hope."
Another friend involved in the crash, Tyler Parker, 20, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, where he died the next day, NBC reports.
"I can't explain this ... my grief," Cantu says. "All along I was led to believe that was Marlena ... and it wasn't."
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