Arizona coma patient wakes up after nearly dying

Posted Dec. 23, 2011, at 3:45 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 23, 2011, at 8:54 p.m.

PHOENIX — Only hours from being taken off life support at a Phoenix hospital, a 21-year-old University of Arizona student is recovering after waking up from a coma.

Sam Schmid was involved in a five-car crash in Tucson on Oct. 19 that left him with a brain aneurysm, among other life-threatening injuries.

Schmid underwent brain surgery performed by Dr. Robert Spetzler at Phoenix’s Barrow Neurological Institute.

With no responsive signs from Schmid, staff recommended taking him off life support.

But Spetzler recommended keeping him on life support for one more week.

Doctors were shocked when Schmid began following commands to hold up two fingers.

Schmid is now walking and talking and is described as a miracle brain injury survivor.

Same-sex kiss a first for Navy tradition

SAN DIEGO — A public embrace this week between two female sailors from California is being hailed as “the kiss heard ‘round the world’” by activists who fought for a repeal of the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta from Placerville shared a kiss with partner Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell of Los Angeles on Wednesday as Gaeta’s ship, the amphibious landing ship Oak Hill, returned to base at Virginia Beach, Va., after an 80-day deployment to Central America.

“It’s something new, that’s for sure,” Gaeta, 23, told reporters after the kiss. “It’s nice to be able to be myself. It’s been a long time coming.”

The two met while training to maintain and operate weapons systems aboard ship. They’ve been dating for two years.

“We did have to hide it a lot in the beginning,” said Snell, 22, in an Associated Press story.

Gaeta was chosen to have the honor of the “first kiss” as part of a raffle in which sailors bought $1 tickets to raise funds for a Christmas party for military children. Gaeta said she bought $50 worth of tickets.

Navy officials said it was the first time a same-sex couple was chosen to have the first kiss. The first kiss is a Navy tradition for ships returning to port.

Calif. family answers girl’s ‘air mail’ to Santa

AUBURN, Wash. — A 5-year-old girl from suburban Seattle sent a letter to Santa attached to two pink balloons, and it ended up in the hands of a Northern California ranching family who say they’ll make the girl’s wishes come true.

Helen Cardenas, of Auburn, wrote the note in Spanish, asking for a doll, a tea set, shoes and pants, KOMO-TV reported.

Her mother, Rosa Cardenas de Beyes, helped send the note Dec. 2. She said she has been out of work and cash has been tight.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Cardenas de Beyes said. “So I always told her we would send a balloon to Santa because that was a tradition when I was little.”

The note ended up nearly 700 miles away, in Laytonville, Calif.

Twin explosions rock Syrian capital, killing at least 44 people

BEIRUT — In a dramatic twist in the nine-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad, government officials said Friday that two suicide car bombers detonated hundreds of pounds of explosives in front of buildings used by intelligence agencies in the heart of the capital.

Officials quickly pointed the finger at al-Qaida, saying the dramatic escalation in violence confirms their contention that armed terrorists are behind the unrest.

To reinforce the point, state television broadcast video of mangled body parts, burned-out vehicles and bloodied pavement against an action-movie-like soundtrack. The Interior Ministry said 44 people were killed and 166 injured.

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