A Remarkable Recovery for Rosy : Accident: Doctors gave the La Puente girl, 14, only a 40% chance of surviving the motor home fire that killed seven members of her family. She will leave the hospital today.


Rosy Garcia walked slowly out to the hospital patio Wednesday, supported by her father and a nurse, wearing a purple dress and a festive hat over her scars and bandages.

She looked good.

Six weeks ago, the 14-year-old La Puente girl was burned over 75% of her body when an explosion incinerated her family’s motor home during a vacation tour of the Yucatan Peninsula. The fire killed seven members of her family.

Doctors initially gave Rosy only a 40% chance of survival. Later they said she would live, but could be hospitalized for several months.


However, her physical strength and emotional maturity, combined with advanced medical techniques, produced a remarkable recovery, doctors said.

They held a party Wednesday to celebrate her scheduled release today from the burn center at Sherman Oaks Hospital.

Rosy cut a cake, faced a fearsome thicket of cameras and said soft words of gratitude to a city that has flooded her with sympathy and donations.

“I want to thank everybody,” she said.

Rosy will require continuing treatment and perhaps reconstructive surgery as she gets older, said Dr. Richard Grossman, director of the burn center. But the physical pain is largely gone, he said. Within a year, Rosy should be able to try out for her high school cheerleading squad, as she has long wanted to do, he said.

“Ninety percent of it has been her inner strength,” he said. “Sometimes there is a loss of will to survive.”

Doctors performed nine skin grafts on her severely burned face, legs and arms, using skin from other parts of her own body and from cadavers, Grossman said. They also used a recently developed technique in which cells were taken from her body, cultivated in a laboratory in sheetlike form, and used to replace burned skin.


Rosy’s emotional resilence showed itself nine days after the accident when Grossman told her of the extent of her loss: The explosion killed her four brothers, her mother, a great-aunt and an aunt.

After the initial shock and disbelief, she worked with counselors and a priest. She has proved a source of consolation for her father, who survived the blast along with her aunt’s boyfriend.

“She has become the mother,” Grossman said.

Jose Garcia, a grocery store maintenance worker, said he will tend to his daugher as she recovers. But he will also rely on her as the two of them move in with relatives and try to rebuild their lives.

“I think she is more strong than me,” he said. “I need her, she needs me. From now on it is going to be hard for the two of us.”

Social worker Eileen Escudero said Rosy still cries and still talks about her brothers, recalling how they played music in the church the family attended. For all the talk about her strength, Escudero said, Rosy is overwhelmed by the attention she has received--including visits from celebrities--and is eager to go home.

“She wants to get healthy,” Escudero said. “She is a 14-year-old.”

On Wednesday, Escudero said Rosy prepared excitedly for the party with the help of the hospital staff, who bought her a new dress, lent her shoes and helped her put on makeup and a wig to cover her scarred scalp.

When the little girl who survived the flames walked out into the sunlight, everyone--doctors, patients, journalists, onlookers--applauded.