Woman suffers ‘most severe grade’ of traumatic brain injury after July 4 crash, driver still at large

A woman who spent nearly two weeks in a coma after shielding her daughter from a crashing vehicle has reportedly been diagnosed with the worst case of a traumatic brain injury.

What happened: Lam Nguyen, 44, and her daughter, Nhung Pham, 22, were watching fireworks in Anaheim, Calif., on Independence Day when a gray Chevy pickup truck plowed into the crowd they were standing with. Nguyen instinctively tried to protect Pham and consequently absorbed most of the impact.

  • The incident, which was reported around 9:40 p.m., occurred in the 200 block of North Grand Avenue. Witnesses reportedly saw the pickup truck “doing donuts,” “peeling out” and/or “doing burnouts” before it struck the crowd.

  • The driver reportedly passed a sobriety test and was released “on the spot.” His mother refuted the witnesses’ accounts and claimed that her son’s truck had instead suffered a broken axle.

  • Nguyen sustained a traumatic brain injury, multiple skull fractures, collapsed lungs, a lacerated liver, broken torso and arms, broken pelvis and legs, and “numerous other injuries” from the crash. Meanwhile, Pham suffered a broken femur, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, multiple lacerations and internal bleeding, with her liver and at least one kidney getting punctured.

The latest: Both Nguyen and Pham have undergone multiple surgeries since their hospitalization. Over the weekend, James Mai, who set up a GoFundMe page for them, announced that Nguyen had been diagnosed with Grade 3 diffuse axonal injury (DAI) -- the most severe category of the traumatic brain injury.

  • DAI is a type of traumatic brain injury that results from a blunt impact. Studies say it is most commonly caused by high-speed motor vehicle accidents, while patients who sustain it usually end up in a coma.

  • “It's with great sadness to see someone work so hard her entire life to provide a better future for her child, as an immigrant, working day and night with this result -- what you see now before you,” Mai wrote in an update, which showed Nguyen's latest photos. “At this point, we can only pray she feels no pain.”

  • As of Sunday, Nguyen was also fighting a high-grade fever. Doctors could not immediately identify its cause since “her entire body has damage, internally and externally,” Mai noted.

  • Pham, who has started physical therapy, is currently wheelchair-bound. A permanent metal rod was placed on her “snapped” femur (thigh bone) to help stabilize it.

  • As of this writing, Mai’s GoFundMe page has raised more than $81,000 for the mother-and-daughter. He said the donations are a blessing after he was informed “that the individual responsible for the accident did not have insurance, nor have they reached out.”

Featured Images via James Mai

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