Firefighter Emerges From a Lost Decade
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Nearly 9 1/2 years after a firefighter was left brain-damaged and mostly mute during a 1995 roof collapse, he did something that shocked his family and doctors: He asked for his wife.
Staff members of the nursing home where Donald Herbert has lived for more than seven years raced to get Linda Herbert on the telephone.
It was the first of many conversations the patient had with his wife, four sons and other family and friends Saturday during a 14-hour stretch, Herbert's uncle Simon Manka said.
"How long have I been away?" Herbert asked.
"We told him almost 10 years," the uncle said. "He thought it was only three months."
Herbert, who will turn 44 Saturday, was fighting a house fire Dec. 29, 1995, when the roof collapsed, burying him under debris. After going without air for several minutes, Herbert was comatose for 2 1/2 months and has undergone therapy ever since.