Cliff plunge survivor improving despite coma

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. Dan Watson/The Signal

A 59-year-old mother of two whose car went over a cliff as she drove through the Grapevine and hit a tire tread remains in a coma after three months but is out of the hospital and showing signs of recovery, according to her sister and one of her daughters.

Julie Rene Trotochau left her home in Desert Hot Springs and was on her way to a Zen retreat in Oregon, via the Grapevine.

On Aug. 10, about 6:30 a.m., she left her daughter, Shannon Casey Parker, a phone message informing her of the trip.

About 45 minutes later, as she followed traffic along the winding northbound lanes of Interstate 5 in her Burgundy-colored Dodge Ram truck, motorists in front of Julie Trotochau suddenly swerved to avoid something in the road.

Trotochau’s passenger tire, however, hit what was believed to have been a tire tread reported earlier that morning by the California Highway Patrol.  Her truck plunged down the ravine.

She was airlifted to Henry Mayo Memorial Hospital where she remained in a coma until the end of August.

“My mother is out of the hospital now and although she still in a coma she is doing fantastic in the care of my Aunt Robin,” Parker told The Signal Tuesday.

On Aug. 29, Robin Sherrie Trotochau, checked her sister out of the hospital and brought her to her home near Desert Hot Springs.

“She wiggles her toes, she opens her eyes, she lifts her head,” Robin said of her sister’s improving condition.

Does she think her sister will make a full recovery?  Robin answered quickly and emphatically: “Yes.”

While in her sister’s care, Julie Trotochau receives medical attention from a full-time nurse, added support from licensed non-registered nurses and regular checkup visits by officials with the Social Services.

At one point, shortly after she was admitted to the hospital, some close to the comatose woman suggested taking her off of life support, Robin Trotochau said.

Now, with her sister exhibiting small signs of improvement, she shudders to recall those earlier discussions.

“She opens her eyes. She moves her hands.  She brings her knees up.  She reaches up with her head,” Robin told The Signal Tuesday.

“She is adorable.  She is a big huge baby,” she said.

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