Two More Dead Found in I-880 Collapse
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Workers searching the twisted wreckage of Interstate 880 found the bodies of a woman and a man in separate vehicles, two weeks after the earthquake, a police spokesman said Tuesday.
The body of Joyce Ann Mabry, 31, of Berkeley, Calif., was found around 7 p.m. Monday, said Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Knudsen. Around 7 a.m. Tuesday, searchers found the body of James J. Flores, 39, of Rohnert Park, Knudsen said.
″We’re checking the vehicles for personal belongings,″ Knudsen said. ″We have no reason to believe there are any more bodies there.″
The discoveries raised the death toll in the quake’s worst disaster to 41 and the overall number of people who died in the quake to 66.
Mabry was the mother of a 3-year-old boy and Flores had a teen-age child.
″It’s a terrible thought to think that sombeody you love is up there in the rain, the cold, the night, and it’s hard to decribe, but we’re glad he’s down,″ Flores’ brother, Leonard, said after the body was recovered.
Those who survived the catastrophe struggled to recover from their injuries.
Cathy Scarpa, 37, remained hospitalized Tuesday with multiple fractures in both legs and a crushed hand suffered when her carpool van was smashed in the collapse of Interstate 880 in Oakland. Five of the University of California- San Francisco co-workers who were with Scarpa, a registered nurse and health education, were killed in the van.
″There were some services for the people who died, and it was hard not to be a part of that. It’s hard to be here dealing with all this and not being a part of normal life,″ said Scarpa, sometimes through tears, from her bed at Eden Hospital in Castro Valley.
Scarpa is one of dozens still hospitalized with broken limbs and other injuries suffered in the devastating earthquake Oct. 17 that killed 64, crippled the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and buckled a 1 1/2 -mile section of the I-880 freeway in Oakland.
In all, 2,874 people were treated and released and 439 were hospitalized, enough to fill a large hospital, according to a survey conducted last week by the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems.
Perhaps the most famous patient is Buck Helm, the feisty longshoreman trapped for four days in the squashed wreckage of his car on I-880. He was listed on Tuesday in serious condition at Highland Hospital in Oakland.
Julio Berumen, the 6-year-old whose leg was amputated during his rescue at I-880, and his 8-year-old sister, Cathy, both were listed in good condition on Tuesday at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, and the hospital said they were improving daily. The youngsters lost their mother in the freeway collapse.
Among those still clinging to life Tuesday was Margaret Fitzpatrick, a UCSF employee who was riding with Scarpa. She remained in critical condition at Eden Hospital in a ″near coma″ with multiple internal injuries, said hospital spokesman Thomas McGarry.
Scarpa remembers the upper level of the freeway dropping 20 feet and concrete raining down on the van, crushing it like a fist smashing an aluminum can. She remembers a co-worker in the smoky darkness crying, ″Oh, my God 3/8″
Her legs, trapped under the dash, are fitted with pins and she is awaiting a bone graft. It will be six months before she can stand and only then will therapists begin teaching her to walk again.
For now, she looks forward to a visit from her dogs and is comforted by mail from well-wishers, including a friend she hadn’t seen in 12 years.
″It’s tremendous. I can’t believe the calls and mail and balloons from friends and people I’ve worked with on projects,″ said Scarpa.
Until Sunday, Carmen Smith, 64, was unable to discuss his 20-foot fall off the I-880 structure that left parts of his spine crushed.
″He said it was like being in a washing machine while it was going,″ said Christi Welter, spokeswoman for San Jose Medical Center, where Smith underwent a second operation on Friday. Smith, who is in stable condition, was driving his truck when the elevated freeway collapsed.
″From the beginning he was having such nightmares. ... He was reliving what was happening. He thought he was going to die,″ Welter said.
Neither the state hospital association nor its Northern California counterpart has determined how many victims remain hospitalized, but they estimate the number at dozens.
In all, 48 of the 112 hospitals in the nine quake-stricken counties treated or admitted patients. And the state hospital association estimated that the hospitals suffered $25 million in damage themselves.
Watsonville Community Hospital, close to the epicenter of the quake, was hardest hit; its chief administrator, Paul Estess, put damage at $2 million.
In the frantic hours after the quake, Watsonville Community Hospital lost its water supply and part of its electrical power and had to evacuate all patients who could walk onto the lawn, Estess said. More than 300 people were treated in the outdoor emergency room and 12 were admitted with a variety of injuries, while others were airlifted or taken by ambulance to other hospitals.
Neither the Federal Emergency Management Agency nor the state Office of Emergency Services has compiled an estimate of the total cost of medical treatment for the injured, officials said.
In other developments:
- The state Legislature will convene in special session Thursday to consider raising $800 million for quake relief with a one-year, quarter-cent sales tax increase, to begin in time for the busy Christmas season.
- San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. announced the defending Super Bowl champions will play at Candlestick Park as scheduled on Monday night against the New Orleans Saints, after receiving assurances from the city the park is safe.