Destiny Morris, the 15-year-old Hagerstown girl who has been in a coma since being struck in the head May 26 by a stone while traveling the Capital Beltway, was flown Monday to a rehabilitation center near Pittsburgh.
Morris initially had not been expected to survive the injuries she received while sleeping in a pickup truck. But recently she began opening her eyes and has improved physically so that she no longer needs acute medical care, Southern Maryland Hospital spokesman Mark Turner said. However, she has not responded to commands, he said.
At the request of Morris's mother, doctors at the New Medico Meadowlands hospital in Canonsburg, Pa., where Morris is expected to remain for several months, declined to discuss the girl's condition or prognosis.
However, Charles Goyette, program director at the facility 15 miles south of Pittsburgh, said two-thirds of the patients at the hospital, which specializes in head-trauma rehabilitation, ultimately recover sufficiently to go home and resume some activity. Each day Morris will receive several hours of therapy during which hospital staff members will talk to her, move her limbs and stimulate her senses, Goyette said.
Members of Morris's family declined to be interviewed. However, Mary Jane Cook of the Stephanie Roper Foundation for victims' rights said that Linda Cline, Morris's mother, told her that Sunday the girl had raised her arm as if to embrace her.
"We don't know if it's involuntary or intentional, but Linda was quite excited that Destiny put her arm around her and smiled," Cook said. "She has been smiling quite a bit now."
Cook said that Cline plans to return to her job in Hagerstown, visiting her daughter in Canonsburg on the weekends.
Three persons were charged June 2 with assault with intent to murder and malicious destruction of property in the stone-throwing rampage on the Capital Beltway that damaged 25 vehicles and injured seven persons. Morris, who was returning from a family outing in Ocean City, was the most seriously injured in the incident, although several other people suffered fractures and serious cuts, police said.
Two men, Maurice Ford, 18, and John Lavin Burgess, 18, both of Oxon Hill, were jailed initially on $150,000 bond but were released after their bonds were reduced to $25,000. Both of the defendants are being monitored as part of the Prince George's County jail's home-detention program, a corrections official said yesterday.
The third person, a 17-year-old, is being held at Boys Village in Cheltenham.