'Most incredible thing': Toronto-area man injured in Costa Rica awakes from coma
Joshua Aversa is seen in hospital in a family photo.
Published Thursday, November 26, 2015 8:41AM EST
The parents of a man injured while on vacation in Costa Rica are overjoyed after their son awoke from a coma nearly two weeks after crashing an ATV.
Joshua Aversa, 24, was on vacation when he was injured in the crash, on Nov. 13. The Newmarket native went into a coma as a result of his injuries.
Aversa had travelled to Costa Rica with his girlfriend after graduating from a police foundation program. The couple planned to spend a few months in the country before coming back to Canada.
"We were having such a good time," his girlfriend Stephanie Vanderwouw said Wednesday.
On Nov. 13, Aversa went for ATV ride alone near the town of Tamarindo and didn’t come back. Vanderwouw didn't know where he was until a stranger sent her a message online.
"They messaged me through Facebook," she said. The stranger told her they'd seen Aversa heading to the hospital after the crash.
"My heart just dropped."
Vanderwouw said it is believed that Aversa struck a tree while riding the SUV. He spent a week in a hospital in Liberia before being flown back to St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto last week.
He remained in a coma until Wednesday.
"When Josh woke up for the first time… I can't explain exactly, I just wanted to jump up and down, that's how happy I was," Aversa's mother Gail Gross said Wednesday.
Gross told CTV Toronto's Ben Mercer that she'd been preparing for bad news. On Tuesday night, a doctor had explained to her that after 12 days in a coma, the young man's odds of a successful recovery start dropping dramatically.
"I wanted to go home and die," she said of the moment she spoke to the doctor, fearing the worst for her son.
But Aversa opened his eyes on Wednesday, giving his family hope for his future.
"Seeing my son open his eyes… It's the most incredible thing any parent can see," the young man's father Marcello Aversa said.
Aversa is able to communicate by blinking his eyes to answer "yes" or "no" to questions, she said. He can also wiggle his toes and squeeze his mother's hand.
Though the family is happy about Aversa's recovery, they are also dealing with hefty medical bills from the man's time in Costa Rica. Aversa didn't have travel insurance, and the expenses amount to more than $60,000, including the flight back to Toronto which cost about $50,000.
An online crowdfunding campaign was set up by Aversa's cousin to help cover the bills, and had raised $31,778 as of Thursday morning.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Ben Mercer