Grammy winner clinging to life

March 25, 2008 1:09:15 PM PDT
Even if he survives a horrific head injury suffered in a bus crash, Grammy-winning Tejano singer Emilio Navaira faces a long recovery and an uncertain future, his doctors say. Navaira, 45, known to his fans simply as Emilio, was behind the wheel of his tour bus before dawn Sunday following a weekend show when it slammed into an interchange barrier on a Houston-area freeway, propelling him through the windshield.

Police said while the crash remained under investigation, their preliminary probe showed Navaira was not licensed to drive the 26,000-pound bus. His agent said the singer loved to drive it and normally did.

The neurosurgeon who operated on the San Antonio-born Navaira to remove a blood clot warned that the performer "might not make it." Physicians hoped a research technique using hypothermia to lower his body temperature would keep Navaira's brain from further swelling and help his recovery.

Doctors began raising Navaira's body temperature Tuesday.

Dr. Alex Valadka, director of neurotrauma services at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and vice chair of neurosciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, described Navaira as stable.

"In his case, that's good," Valadka said. "We're still afraid something adverse could happen. The main thing we're watching continues to be the pressure in his brain."

Valdka said if the pressure increases, doctors would try medication to control it.

Navaira was among six people - all but one of them members of his band- aboard the bus and hurt in the crash on Interstate 610 in Bellaire, an enclave in Houston. They were returning home to San Antonio after playing at a Houston club Saturday night.