March 27, 2008 / 12:37 AM / 10 years ago

Tejano star Navaira's survival chances improving

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Grammy-winning Tejano music star Emilio Navaira’s chances of survival are improving, his doctor said on Wednesday, following a crash this week in which he was thrown through the windshield of his tour bus.

“I feel optimistic that he will not die,” Dr. Alex Valadka said at a news conference. “He’s done about as well as can be expected.”

Navaira, 45, had been in grave condition following Sunday’s early morning crash, and Valadka had said there was “a chance he may not make it.” The neurosurgeon cautioned on Wednesday that something adverse might still happen to Navaira.

“He can still take a turn for the worse,” he said.

Valadka led a team of surgeons who removed a hand-sized portion of Navaira’s skull on Tuesday to reduce pressure from a bruise forming on the left side of the singer’s brain.

The operation was the second surgery to relieve pressure on the brain after the bus Navaira was driving crashed into a concrete highway barrier in the Houston suburb of Bellaire, Texas.

Navaira remained unconscious in critical condition at Memorial Hermann hospital. He is expected to stay in the intensive care unit for up to two weeks.

The singer likely faces a long recovery lasting at least several months, Valadka said. Until he awakens, doctors are unable to tell how much brain damage he may have suffered.

The area of the brain where the bruise formed is near where speech recognition is controlled, he said. The doctors did not attempt to reduce the bruise for fear of causing further harm.

Police continue to investigate the accident.

Navaira’s brother Raul on Wednesday discounted the suggestion fatigue was a factor. Raul Navaira plays in his brother’s band, which performed on Saturday night at a southeast Houston nightclub.

“Every weekend we’re used to driving all over Texas,” Raul Navaira said. He declined to discuss if his brother had been drinking alcohol before departing the club.

Called the “King of Tejano music,” Navaira is often described as one of the most influential Tejano musicians, on par with the late singer Selena. Navaira won a Grammy award in 2003 for his album “Acuerdate.”

Reporting by Erwin Seba, Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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