HOUSTON – Grammy-winning Tejano singer Emilio Navaira, less than a month after being severely injured in a bus crash, is now able to stand and sit up, eat and talk with his family, his doctors said Friday.
His recovery has gone so well that he was expected to be moved out of intensive care Friday and could be released from the hospital in several weeks.
Although Navaira has made much progress, doctors at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center said his recovery once he goes home could take months or even longer.
"It's difficult to say how well he will do and how long it will take him to recover and how well he will recover," said Dr. Alex Valadka, Navaira's neurosurgeon. "The fact he has made a lot of progress in such a short time is encouraging."
Navaira's wife, Maria, said she was grateful that her husband is out of danger. His condition has been upgraded to fair.
"It was agony the first few weeks. It was difficult not knowing whether or not he was going to make it," Maria Navaira told reporters in Spanish as she started to cry. "We give thanks to God he is here."
She said it's been especially difficult on 2-year-old daughter Frida Luna, whom she held in her lap as she talked, and 4-year-old son Pani Antonio, who sat next to her.
"We are a family and most of the time we are together," she said. "I talked with my kids, had a psychologist at the hospital talk with the kids. I try to be truthful with them. They know their father was hurt badly and is in the hospital recovering."
The 45-year-old singer was behind the wheel of his tour bus on March 23 when it slammed into a collection of freeway barrels that mark the interchange of Interstate 610 and U.S. Highway 59 in Bellaire, a southwest Houston enclave.
He was thrown through the windshield and suffered severe injuries.
Doctors had to perform two brain surgeries on Navaira, who is known to his fans simply as Emilio.
More than a week after the accident, doctors had to also repair an aneurysm in his right lung that could have been fatal.
The bus accident remains under investigation.
Investigators are still waiting for results of blood-alcohol tests.
Police are also looking at whether Navaira might have fallen asleep. Navaira was not licensed to drive the 26,000-pound tour bus.
Several members of Emilio Navaira's band, including his brother Raul, came away with less serious injuries.
Navaira and his band have released more than a dozen albums, including "Acuerdate," which won the Grammy for best Tejano album in 2003.