Haiti earthquake victim recovering in Raleigh

Posted February 20, 2010 7:56 p.m. EST
Updated February 21, 2010 3:29 p.m. EST

— A man who survived a seven-story fall when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti said Saturday that he is ready to return home.

Bill Nathan, 25, suffered broken ribs, backbone fractures and bruising on his liver when the Jan. 20 quake leveled most of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. He has been receiving medical care in Raleigh.

“It’s been a month, and I feel that I need to go back there. I need to go back there and work with the kids,” Nathan said.

Nathan, the director of the St. Joseph's Home for Boys in Port-au-Prince, was on the roof of the facility when the quake struck.

“The top of the building collapsed, and it threw me up in the air,” he recalled. “I jumped to a neighbor's roof and from the neighbor's roof, I bounced. I went all the way down to the ground.”

Nathan’s friend, Miles Wright, who founded Hearts with Haiti, a non-profit that helps fund the boys’ home, flew Nathan to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for medical care. He then came to Raleigh for additional treatment.

“It’s amazing in four weeks to see Bill, where he was, to where he is today,” Wright said.

Nathan is expected to make a full recovery. He said he hopes to return to Haiti next month to help with recovery efforts.

“We need to see a way of rebuilding,” Nathan said.

The St. Joseph's School, which started in 1985 to help boys get off the streets, includes the Wings of Hope home. The quake also damaged that facility, which helps children with physical and mental disabilities.

All the children who lived in the homes survived the quake, but a seminary student was killed.

Efforts are under way to rebuild the facilities. Several of the boys from the St. Joseph's School are coming to the United States to tour as a dance troupe.  They hope to raise money for rebuilding.