Guillermo Gama, 23, is the only survivor of a Florida crash that killed six people on Saturday night, authorities said
The sole survivor of an SUV crash that killed six people on Saturday continues to fight for his life in a Florida hospital, authorities said. But for Guillermo Gama's family, there are still signs of hope.
The 23-year-old remains in critical condition at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, but he's been able to wiggle his toes and fingers and does not need brain surgery, per Fox affiliate WTVT-TV and NBC affiliate WFLA-TV.
“We’re extremely blessed and grateful that he’s here with us still,” his aunt Jennifer Cantu told WFLA-TV.
Gama is intubated and has extensive injuries, including a brain bleed, a ruptured kidney and a bruised lung, but he is expected to survive, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said Monday.
"I can't speak enough about the power of a community coming together to support and pray for the victims, families, and first responders involved in this heart-wrenching crash," said County Sheriff Chad Chronister. "We are hopeful about this young man's recovery and remain committed to not only the investigation but the healing of all those impacted."
The train struck the 2020 Cadillac Escalade with Gama and the other passengers around 7 p.m. local time at a railroad crossing on US Highway 92 near Jim Lefler Circle in Plant City, the sheriff's office said.
Jose Guadalupe Hernandez was the driver of the vehicle, while Gama was the passenger, authorities added. According to WTVT-TV and the sheriff's office, Gama's 22-year-old girlfriend, Aniella Hernandez, her parents, Jose and Enedelia, and her two siblings, Alyssa, 17, and Julian, 9, were in the back of the SUV with a friend, Jakub Lopez.
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"For unknown and undetermined reasons, the driver slowly crossed the tracks directly in the train's path," said the sheriff's office. "Five rear passengers were ejected from the Escalade as it rotated and rolled to final rest."
Alongside the five rear victims, Jose died as a result of his injuries at the hospital, authorities added.
The group was headed to a quinceañera birthday party when the tragic crash happened, WTVT-TV, WFLA-TV and The Tampa Bay Times reported.
Gama texted Cantu just before the crash, hoping to save tables before the group arrived, and the 23-year-old reminded her that everyone should be looking forward to celebrating.
“We’re more than ready, and we’ve got two tables for everyone,” Cantu replied, per the Times. “Don’t worry and don’t take too long.”
But when Cantu and his girlfriend didn't show up, the aunt began to worry, per the paper. Then anxiety grew as word of a crash nearby spread. The party music was shut off and eventually reality set in.
“We were planning to have a great night,” said Cantu. “Now all of this feels like a nightmare."
In a GoFundMe campaign launched by Cantu to raise money for Gama's medical expenses, she called the event "one of the most tragic episodes of our lives," noting that her nephew has a "passion for life and family."
Cantu shared that the family has gathered at the hospital "to pray for him and support each other." More than $15,000 has been raised as of Tuesday morning.
A separate GoFundMe has also been created to help support the Hernandez family.
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