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Gettman coming out of coma

Glenwood Springs High School alumnae Marla Gettman, 31, is opening her eyes but is not yet recognizing anyone, says family friend Sylvia Lincoln.

“At least not yet,” Lincoln added. “It doesn’t mean she won’t be able to ever recognize anyone.”

Gettman is the daughter of Mary and Leo Williams of Glenwood Springs. She suffered a severe head injury and multiple fractures in a motor vehicle accident on Berthoud Pass Dec. 13 which sent her into a coma. Now, it appears she is coming out of the coma in stages.



In addition to the coma and other injuries, Gettman had a left brain stroke sometime after the accident and before she reached St. Anthony’s Central Hospital in Denver, where she’s been hospitalized since.

“The doctors weren’t sure Marla had had a stroke, but after three days in the hospital they could see she wasn’t moving the right side of her body,” said Lincoln. “They tested her and discovered she had experienced the stroke, which resulted in problems with her language and speech.”



The right side of Gettman’s body is paralyzed.

“Doctors are saying the paralysis is permanent,” Lincoln said, “but we’re hearing miracle stories all the time of people recovering from injuries like Marla’s and leading high-functioning lives.”

She said Gettman “is quite agitated in her body, and needs to be watched all the time.”

Gettman has been moved from the intensive care unit to another section of the hospital, and the Williamses are looking for a rehabilitation center, where Gettman may need to stay “for many years,” said Lincoln.

Lincoln said Gettman was accepted at a rehabilitation center in Craig, which is known as one of the finest facilities of its kind in the country. But Gettman’s insurance would not cover her expenses there. Lincoln said she wasn’t sure if the Williamses were going to challenge the insurance company or continue their search.

Lincoln said she knows Mary and Leo Williams are exhausted, but are sticking by their daughter. Leo retired last year from Glenwood Springs High School where he was a counselor, and Mary, a registered nurse, recently retired as a counselor from the Child and Family Counseling Center.

“They’re at the hospital 18 hours a day,” Lincoln said. “And Marla’s brother Mark has kept vigil at the hospital, too. He just came up to Glenwood for Stuart Rippy’s memorial service, and now he’s headed back down to Denver.”

Lincoln said the Williamses want to thank all the local people who have sent cards and letters to them, as well as those who have donated to Gettman’s fund at Alpine Bank.

“People here are remarkable,” Lincoln said. “Our community really rallies. It’s been so encouraging for Mary and Leo to get this kind of support. I know this caring that’s come from the community is helping to keep them going.”

Gettman, a third-grade teacher at Glacier Parks Elementary School in Brighton, was married briefly, and is now divorced. She has no children.

She and her boyfriend, Rob Sousa , were on their way to Winter Park to go snowboarding on Dec. 13 when their vehicle slid off the road into a ravine and hit a tree.


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