Health Team

Woman injured in Virginia bus crash treated at UNC

Posted July 13, 2011 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2011 7:07 p.m. EDT

— Four people were killed and 50 injured in a tour bus crash on Interstate 95 in Virginia on May 31. One of those injured in the crash, Geeta Chhetri, is undergoing spinal cord injury rehabilitation at UNC Hospitals.

Chhetri and her son, Pratik Chhetri, had been visiting close friends in High Point when they boarded a Sky Express Inc. bus in Greensboro to see more friends in New York.

Pratik Chhetri said both of them were asleep when the bus strayed off I-95 near Fredricksburg, Va., hit an embankment and overturned.

As a result of the crash, Pratik Chhetri suffered compression fractures in his spine. He is able to walk but has to wear a brace temporarily. His mother had an incomplete spinal cord injury.

"She does have some sensory preservation below her level of injury, but she pretty much only has use of her upper extremities," said Dr. Heather Walker, director of UNC's spinal cord injury rehabilitation program.

Walker said if Geeta Chhetri had some feeling in her legs, it would offer a glimmer of hope of that her movement could return, Walker said. "We haven't seen it yet," she said.

Her therapy is focused on increasing strength in her arms. Doctors said she is showing signs of improvement.

"She wants to be normal again. She wants to be able to do normal things," Pratik Chhetri said of his mother.

Geeta Chhetri's target discharge date is in August, but she could remain in the hospital longer.

Family members say their goal is to get her a power wheelchair and, when she is strong enough, take her home to Nepal.

The driver of the bus, Kin Yiu Cheung, 37, is charged with four felony counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the crash. Police say Cheung admitted that he fell asleep at the wheel when the bus wrecked.

Cheung has pleaded not guilty. His trial is set to begin on Sept. 12.

Donations for Geeta and Pratik Chhetri's recovery can be made here.