Friday, November 13, 1987

1987 Big Cat Attacks

U.P.I. (Dateline Houston)
November 13, 1987, Friday, PM cycle
Girl mauled by lion goes home

An 8-year-old girl severely mauled by an undernourished lion a month ago at a flea market has gone home from the hospital but still faces at least three more operations to repair her head wounds, hospital officials said.

Roxanne Hernandez hugged her nurses then was wheeled out of Hermann Hospital Thursday afternoon.

''She was grinning from ear-to-ear,'' said Hermann Hospital spokeswoman Beth Sartori. ''She came out with balloons about 7 to 10 feet high over the wheelchair. There was a mariachi band outside, arranged by her grandmother. It was really a very festive celebration.'' Although Roxanne Hernandez is suffering from a mild case of chicken pox, doctors said she is doing well but suffers some brain damage.

''She's going to have continued speech therapy, which appears to be one of the areas where she's having some deficit,'' said Sartori. ''Dr. (Michael) Miner said it will probably be nine months before he can say exactly how the brain was affected.''

Roxanne has had at least three major operations in the past month and still faces three to five more operations, including plastic surgery and a procedure to replace bone that was lost in her skull, Sartori said.

The medical bills so far have reached nearly $50,000 and only $18,000 has been raised for her family, who lack medical insurance, Sartori said.

The Hernandez family has filed suit in state district court seeking unspecified damages against the 300-pound lion's owner, Gary Durkovitz, and James McIngvale, owner of Texas Flea Market. The private security firm for the flea market, Brown Investigation and Security, also is named in the suit.

Durkovitz, 35, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of injury to a child at a north Harris County home where authorities said he sometimes lives. He had evaded authorities since the Oct. 10 attack.