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Special Event

Key West Hospital Holds News Conference on Cuban Plane Crash Victim

Aired September 20, 2000 - 10:05 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to interrupt that story to take you live to Key West for medical update on the man who was severely injured in the plane crash yesterday, flying out of Cuba.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DR. BRUCE BANNON, ATTENDING PHYSICIAN: You guys want some suggestions on where to eat?

RON BIERMAN, HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATOR: Before we do this officially, what we will is we will give you kind of a brief overview. Dr. Bannon I think some of you met last night. We will give you a brief overview of his medical condition, and I will just basically stand here and look like a hospital administer. Ready?

BANNON: I think the simplest way the do is to go and answer some of your questions, But let me say to begin with, that I have been given permission by Rodolfo to talk about his medical condition. I am going to constrain my remarks just to that, as obviously that is my area of expertise. I am here to take care of him and take care of his family.

In general, he is doing quite well. But as you can imagine, having an accident of a plane crash, there are numerous types of injuries that are potentially suffered by a patient in that situation, and we would have to be very vigilant.

At this time, I would like to answer any questions that you might have.

QUESTION: Specifically, can you tell us what he is suffering from, and what's his prognosis?

BANNON: I think his prognosis is quite good at this point. A lot of the science and the medicine behind situations like this is to continue to be observing, to see if there are any injuries that have occurred that are not readily apparent initially from the first evaluation.

For instance, he has a lot of neck tenderness at this time. There is no evidence of fracture in our exhaustive X-ray evaluation, but we are going to continue to be careful, and make sure, and do additional tests, certain that he has a stable spine and that there is no issues there of any concern.

QUESTION: What you know that he has now, what can you say with certainty he's suffering from?

BANNON: To avoid the medicalese, I can say that he has a concussion essentially, a big cut on the back of his neck. and a sore neck.

QUESTION: Can you tell us how his spirits are this morning, what kind of things he might be saying, to the degree you can?

BANNON: Well I can say that his spirits are good. He's obviously concerned about his situation here. He wants to make sure his family knows he's all right. And he is really doing quite well as far as the drama that he suffered.

QUESTION: Doctor, how much longer do you think he is going to be in medical care here?

BANNON: Well, at this point, it is difficult to say. The fact is is that he is doing quite well, and we don't want to rush him out. On the other hand, we want to make sure that he is going -- any of you have been involved in an accident who have had sore necks you can know it could be very disabling. Even if you have had no serious injury, it is going to be awful sore. He obviously doesn't have a home here. Those issues have to be addressed. These things are going to be addressed coincident with his medical concern.

So, from a medical standpoint, I don't expect that he will be hospitalized all that long. But given the situation of his arrival here that could make things a little more difficult and prolong it.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BANNON: From a medical standpoint, it will be myself and my partner's decision, when we feel he's medically able to go. But again, given the circumstances of his arrival, we will consult a variety of other groups that have relevance in the area.

QUESTION: Will he stay here or will you transfer him out?

BANNON: Say that, again.

QUESTION: Has he mentioned anything about when he was actually out at sea?

BANNON: Yes, he has, but I am not going to speak on those issues.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BANNON: Well, that -- that's more of a social issue at this point. From a medical standpoint, I don't see any indication that he needs to be transferred.

QUESTION: Has he been interviewed by the authorities? Has he been able to talk to anybody?

BANNON: I don't want to answer that question. I can have the hospital administrator will be glad to talk about that.

QUESTION: Can we get your name?

BANNON: My name the David Bannon -- that is B, as in boy, A-N-N- O-N.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BIERMAN: Right now, his visitors have been limited to family members. There have been some governmental officials that have had some brief opportunity to spend some time with Mr. Fuentes. And our primary goal, as Doctor Bannon alluded to, is to ensure that he gets rest, proper medical treatment. And he is in the intensive care unit here, and doing very well, and he is quite stable at this time.

QUESTION: ... officials remaining on the premises on the hospital -- is there somebody here all the time from the U.S. government, either FBI or INS?

BIERMAN: No.

QUESTION: Was he interviewed specifically by the FBI? We heard that they were here.

BIERMAN: Briefly last night, he was, yes.

QUESTION: How long would you say that that lasted? that interview?

BIERMAN: I really don't know specifically. I can't really, really ascertain.

QUESTION: Any more INS officials here, sir?

BIERMAN: I don't know.

QUESTION: Have you heard them say anything about his time in the water...

BIERMAN: No, I have not. All I can really tell you is this morning he is doing very well. He's in good spirits, feeling very well under the circumstances. Quite stable.

As Doctor Bannon mentioned, from a medical perspective, there appears to be absolutely no reason for him to be shipped to Miami or any other facility. If, at some point, he desires, or the family chooses to arrange for transfer to another hospital, then, again, considering the medical factors, we will evaluate whether or not we can comply.

Right now he is doing really very well. Again, we appreciate your interest. Maybe we can -- if we have more information later, we will be happy to provide another forum such as this. Thank you very much.

KAGAN: We have been listening to a medical update from Key West on the man who was severely injured yesterday in the plane crash that took place in the waters off of Cuba, between Cuba and Mexico. The man's name, Rodolfo Fuentes. He reportedly is doing well, having some neck tenderness, a concussion, a big cut, and as the doctor said a sore neck.

Fuentes was one of 10 people on board a plane that left Cuba yesterday morning, eight others have been retrieved or are on board a Panamanian freighter right now. One man was killed in that accident.

In terms of the fate, ultimate fate of the eight others and this man in Florida, we have yet to see that, and we continue to follow the story.

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