PORTLAND — A 5-year-old Auburn girl who was in critical condition for a week following an Auburn car crash was moved out of the intensive care unit at midnight Monday.
Amy Liberman said her daughter, Danika DeMayo, wasn't able to speak and was having trouble moving her right side due to severe brain trauma from a Route 4 accident Aug. 6.
Doctors at Maine Medical Center haven't determined whether the injury has caused mental retardation.
Doctors had put DeMayo in a medically induced coma in order to insert a monitor in her head to gauge the pressure. The brain swelling was so severe that doctors considered cutting out a portion of her skull to give it extra room.
"She doesn't look very much like my daughter at all," Liberman said Tuesday morning.
DeMayo was taken to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston the day of the crash. A spokesman at that hospital said she had been treated and released. In fact, DeMayo had been loaded onto a helicopter and flown to Maine Medical Center in critical condition, Liberman said.
DeMayo was moved from the ICU to the Barbara Bush children's wing of the Portland hospital.
Although she's out of the coma and recognizing people, Liberman said, "We've got a long road ahead of us." Doctors said DeMayo could remain in the hospital for weeks or months.
A pickup truck driven by 33-year-old Chester R. Merriam of Sumner slammed into the back of the Scion driven by Liberman. The force propelled her car into the back of a Toyota, which had stopped in front of Liberman, waiting to turn left onto Lake Shore Drive.
"All of a sudden, it felt like a comet literally came from the sky and slammed into our car," Liberman said. She turned to check on DeMayo. Her daughter was dangling from her booster seat, her head bloodied. She was unconscious. The left side of her skull had been fractured in three places.
Neither of the other two passengers in Liberman's car was severely injured.
Liberman said police told her Merriam was going roughly the 55 mph speed limit when the impact occurred.
Police said no citations had been issued and they hadn't determined the cause of the accident, pending completion of the investigation and crash reconstruction.
Liberman said police had recovered the computer from her car in an effort to help determine exactly what Merriam's speed had been.
"I would like to try to forgive him, so I can move past this," she said. "I don't know if he's aware of what he's done."
Liberman is staying at the Ronald McDonald house near Maine Medical Center to be close to her daughter.
"We're just taking it hour by hour," Liberman said.
DeMayo has started physical and occupational therapy. When she is able to speak, speech therapy will be added to the rotation. A friend has offered her services as a massage therapist.
Doctors told Liberman the worst-case scenario would be severe mental retardation; best case, DeMayo could "come out of this unscathed and she could be herself again," Liberman said.
She described her daughter as an energetic girl whose curiosity and joy for life was contagious. She would get excited about the most mundane events, from going to the grocery store to walking down the street.
Her artistic side included hours a day of drawing, as well as ballet and gymnastics. She loves animals and riding her bike, Liberman said.
DeMayo had been enrolled in kindergarten this fall, but now she will be home-schooled, Liberman said.
Prayers and best wishes from family, friends and strangers have been pouring in on Facebook, Liberman said, helping to give her strength. Flowers, which DeMayo loves, have brightened her hospital room.
Liberman urged drivers to keep their eyes on the road and be aware of other vehicles.
"I would not wish this upon anyone, not even my worst enemy," she said.