Image via Shutterstock
For 16 years, a man known only as “Garage 66” lay in a California hospital bed, unable to speak after suffering severe brain damage after an automobile accident. Now authorities say they’ve finally discovered the name of the man who was probably still in his teens when he first arrived at San Diego’s Sharp Coronado Hospital in 1999, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. He has been on life support and unresponsive ever since.
The Mexican consulate in the city says that after the mystery man’s case was publicized, DNA tests confirmed that he was the long-lost relative of one of the families that came forward. The consulate says the man’s relatives have asked for privacy, and medical privacy laws prevent him from being named publicly. “But his Sharp caregivers can now address him by name, and we are all celebrating the dignity afforded a person who has an identity and a history,” says a consulate spokesman.
After the accident near the Mexican border, authorities apparently named the man after the garage where the wrecked van he was riding in was taken, inewsource found when it reported on the case last year. The founder of the immigrant rights group Border Angels tells the Union-Tribune that he helped find the man’s family—and he hopes the case will give hope to other people whose relatives vanished in attempting to cross the US border.
“There are a lot of Garage 66s out there,” Enrique Morones says. “Maybe it’s not a 16-year-old case, maybe it’s a six-day-old case. But there’s a mom who still wants to know, ‘Did my son make it?’” (An Alabama woman reported missing after a tornado in 2011 was recently found alive and well in Florida.)
By Rob Quinn