Victim of downtown cab crash leaves hospital

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – An Encinitas woman who nearly lost a leg when a taxi driver lost consciousness and his cab crashed into a crowd outside a Gaslamp Quarter nightspot six weeks ago was due to be released Wednesday from the Hillcrest hospital where she underwent a series of intensive procedures to save her limb.

Following her discharge from UCSD Medical Center, Dominique Gambale, 45, will likely enter a rehabilitation center “where she can get a little more intensive physical therapy,” orthopedic surgeon Paul Girard told reporters during a midday news conference.

“She's not quite ready to be home yet,” Girard said.

Citing privacy policies, a spokeswoman for the hospital declined to say exactly when she would be released.

Gambale's husband, James, said she's optimistic about her future.

“She's very happy, very happy that's she's moving on … to the next phase of the recovery,” he said.

The two were in a crowd standing in front of Stingaree nightclub at Sixth and Island avenues in downtown San Diego shortly before 2 a.m. Feb. 12, when a cab veered onto the sidewalk at about 15 mph, according to police.

The sedan pinned Dominique Gambale against the building, crushing her right leg. The trauma was so severe that physicians initially believed they would have to amputate.

Thirty-four others suffered less serious injuries, either from the wreck or during the chaotic scene that followed.

After the crash, enraged victims and witnesses grabbed the taxi driver, 52-year-old Sam Hassan Daly, pulled him out of his vehicle and beat him, apparently believing he was trying to flee.

Daly told investigators he blacked out before the accident, SDPD traffic Lt. Rick O'Hanlon said.

There was no evidence he was intoxicated, O'Hanlon said, although he told reporters he was taking antidepressants at the time of the crash.

It was unclear whether he will face charges.

The UCSD surgeon said Dominique Gambale responded extremely well to doctors' efforts to save her shattered leg.

“There's a little bit of luck involved here,” Girard said. “She's healthy and active and in good shape, and she's been in good spirits … Things have gone about as well as they could have for her, I think, so far.”

The tennis enthusiast and mother of two young children still will need to undergo bone-graft surgery in the upcoming weeks or months, according to Girard.

James Gambale praised the medical team that cared for his wife over the last month and a half.

“I don't know if I can find the appropriate words to express how grateful I am,” he said.

He described his wife's expectations for future use of her damaged leg as modest. “I think she just hopes she can walk on the beach with her kids again, more than anything,” he said.

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