- Associated Press - Sunday, November 23, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - As with expectant fathers everywhere, the birth of Angel Quiles’ daughter changed everything. But the newborn’s arrival last month upended his life in ways most dads will never have to experience.

Angel Noemi Quiles was born several weeks prematurely to a mother who was in an induced coma after being hit by a tow truck driver while crossing the street. The accident left Jenny Quiles in a rehabilitation center with serious brain injuries as she struggles to speak and recover her memory.

It also left Angel Quiles with a big job: Caring for his newborn daughter and trying to help his wife recover as best she can.

“It’s a lot of stress. I’m just going day by day and trying to do what I can on a daily basis,” said Angel Quiles. “I’m exhausted, mentally drained. Just trying to get into a pattern, but it’s hard. Now that the baby is home I can concentrate a little bit more on Jenny.”

His wife needs all the help and attention she can get. He brings Angel Noemi with him to the rehabilitation center, but he’s still not sure if his wife recognizes her daughter.

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Angel Quiles’ life changed forever with a phone call.

He was driving a work truck on the interstate on Oct. 15 when the hospital called: His wife had been in an accident. At first he thought she was in a car. When he was told she was a pedestrian, his emotions froze.

“Everything was slow motion,” Angel Quiles said. “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. It’s like a nightmare.”

Police later told him Jenny Quiles, 33 weeks pregnant, was struck by an A-1 Towing driver as she walked across First Avenue North in St. Petersburg on her way to a doctor’s appointment.

She began crossing the road before the light changed from green to yellow, according to St. Petersburg police. She was halfway across the center lane when tow truck driver Shaun Downing made a left turn while the light was yellow, according to a police report. He was charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian, said police spokesman Mike Puetz.

Jenny Quiles was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, where doctors induced her into a coma because of her brain trauma, Angel Quiles said.

Two weeks later, on Oct. 29, Jenny Quiles began having contractions. Doctors delivered Angel Noemi by Cesarean section.

Still premature, Angel Noemi Quiles weighed 6 pounds at birth. She was discharged from the hospital on Nov. 7.

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Nothing has been the same since. On a recent night, Angel Quiles changed his daughter’s diaper, prepared her bottle and fed her. He appeared tired but energized as he held her. She now weighs 6 pounds, 2 ounces.

“She’s doing good,” Angel Quiles said.

Though life is hectic, Angel Quiles does have help. He and his daughter have moved in with his parents in their Tarpon Springs home.

“I’m striving to see Jenny come home and be with her baby,” Angel Quiles said. “That’s the goal. I want her to be home with her baby.”

When he’s not taking care of his baby, Angel Quiles is racing to the rehabilitation center in Dunedin to be with his wife.

The accident dramatically affected the 36-year-old mother. While she’s alert, she doesn’t know how she ended up in the hospital. He doesn’t address the issue with her, Angel Quiles said.

Jenny Quiles recognizes her husband and has kissed Angel Neomi. But Angel Quiles isn’t certain if she understands that she’s kissing her daughter.

“I don’t think she recognizes the baby as to be her baby,” Angel Quiles said. “I think she has an idea. We just don’t know if she really knows.”

Jenny Quiles is improving but has a long way to go. She responds to conversation and moves her arms and legs. But her concentration is fragile.

“She’s like a 3-year-old,” he said. “She’s learning how to say her ABC’s again.”

She can speak, but only a little.

“If I tell her, ‘How you feeling?’ She’ll say, ‘Good night,’” Angel Quiles said. “When she says, ‘Good night,’ I know she’s saying, ‘Good.’ That’s the word that’s coming out. If I tell her, ‘You want to go outside?’ She’ll say, ‘Side.’”

Angel Quiles said he’s hoping his wife can come home by the end of the year, but he knows that might not be realistic. Doctors have told him she probably won’t be discharged until February or March, he said.

“It’s tough to see the one you love in the situation like that and in a predicament that you can’t control,” Angel Quiles said.

The accident has changed the woman he met three years ago at a Pinellas County salsa dance class. He asked her to dance; she agreed. A better salsa dancer than he is, she taught him new moves. The relationship blossomed from friendship to courtship and then marriage last year.

Jenny Quiles was born in Ecuador but grew up in the United States, Angel Quiles said. She works as an accounting manager for Interstate Transport in St. Petersburg.

Outside of work, she trained in kick boxing and enjoyed watching baseball and football. He hopes she can return to those days someday.

“She’s strong,” Angel Quiles said.

Angel Quiles, 35, is a manager for the irrigation department at Total Land Care. He is a certified medical assistant and works part-time at assisted living facilities and doctor’s offices. He was hoping to pursue a nursing degree, but like much of the rest of his life, that’s been put on hold. He’s currently taking time off from work under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

“It’s tough,” Angel Quiles said. “I don’t really sleep. I’m all discombobulated. It’s hard to get a normal routine going.”

Through the chaos, he has found blessings. Because of news accounts of his wife’s accident and daughter’s birth, he’s received emails and Facebook messages from people throughout the country and even the United Kingdom.

He said men will tell him his family’s situation has made them more attentive and caring toward their spouse. Women say the same thing.

“If we can as men give a little bit more than what we’re already doing, then let’s do it,” Angel Quiles said. “Give that extra hand, why not?”

Angel Quiles created a fundraiser site at GoFundME. So far, $20,000 has come in, but the family is hoping to raise more to pay future expenses. Angel Quiles hopes people who hear about his family’s experience learn not to take their family for granted.

“Give them everything you can today because tomorrow is not promised to no one,” Angel Quiles said. “Love your wife; love your child because that’s all you have at the end of the day.”

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Information from: The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune, https://www.tampatrib.com


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