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After 16 Years On Life Support, John Doe In Coronado ID'd

An unidentified man, known only as 66 Garage, is shown at the Villa Coronado Skilled Nursing Facility where he lives, Feb. 5, 2015.
Brad Racino
An unidentified man, known only as 66 Garage, is shown at the Villa Coronado Skilled Nursing Facility where he lives, Feb. 5, 2015.
After 16 Years On Life Support, John Doe In Coronado ID'd
After 16 Years On Life Support, John Doe In Coronado ID'd GUESTS:Leo Castaneda, reporter, inewsource Enrique Morones, founder, Border Angels

A man who has been on life support for 16 years after an accident in San Diego has finally been identified. The man was in a car accident possibly while trying to enter the US illegally. We reported on his case in the course of their investigation called an impossible choice. For years the unresponsive patient had been known only as 66 garage. Joining me if I knew source [Indiscernible] Also with me is a and -- Henrique. Real why was this man called 66 garage? It comes from how he was found. Authorities believe that he was in a band that was followed by border patrol agents. The van crashed and he was ejected. In the hospital he was assigned a random name. It is possible to name my come from an actual garage that was near the site of the accident. We were not able to track that down. Where has he been treated? Most of the last 16 years he has been at the Coronado long-term care system at -- facility. He was on a ventilator and needed feeding tubes and constant attention because of severe brain damage. Was about the people who are being kept alive across California. This particular case in San Diego I think the a lot of interest because of the long time it took to find out who this man is. Henrique how are -- were in authorities able to identify him? It was a team effort. A year ago a lady came to my office and told me about this case. She told me she would go and hold his hand and she wanted us to know about it. She did not have much information. Wasn't until a few weeks later that one of her colleagues came and told me more about it. I said this is unbelievable. It has been 15 years -- and I said we need to do something about this. We need to find out who this person is. I want to Washington DC and met with the head of border patrol -- blue to Mexico City and met with foreign affairs and started formulating a team. As a result, which included elected officials -- people from the community, transborder Institute, and others we were able to formulate this team and said let's get to work on this. There was really one of the key breaking points was Mike Fisher. Says Mike Fisher used to be the head of border patrol in San Diego -- he contacted people and Imperial Valley and they were able to trace when this happened in some of the people there had been involved. During that information with Joanne diligence, we were able to find out who we suspected it was thanks to the Mexican government and DNA test it was confirmed. Will his man -- will his name be released? Eventually -- the goal we have always had is that his family get to see garage 66 and make contact and to spend some time with him. We will see what they decide to do. And then I would imagine it is up to the family, his name and where he is from. One thing we do know is he is from Mexico. Like a lot of people he was seeking a better life. He has this tragic accident. As a result of this a lot of people are now going to have hope. A lot of people wanted to know what happened to my son, my daughter or my mom. Will you be bringing us more about this particular story? Absolutely. We will follow as new information is released. As the family becomes more comfortable with the situation. Obviously it will take more time for them to get a hold of understanding the legalities and what can be done. Where what his treatment go from here? What a relief. I've been speaking with reporter Leo Castaneda who and Henrique Morales. Thank you both.

A man previously known only as 66 Garage has finally been identified after living for 16 years in a minimally conscious state.

The Mexican Consulate in San Diego said Friday the man, who has been living in a Coronado nursing facility, had been reunited with his family. His name has not been released at the request of relatives.

He arrived at the Villa Coronado Skilled Nursing Facility in the late 1990s after he was injured when a van he was traveling in crashed east of San Diego. Some people familiar with the situation believe he might have been attempting to cross illegally into the U.S. from Mexico. After the accident, officials assigned him the name "66 Garage."


It’s unclear what will happen to him now. In 2014, government officials told inewsource state law allows for California to keep paying for the long-term care of people here illegally.

The man was identified by an eclectic alliance of activist groups, Mexican and U.S. government officials, and staff from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. They were brought together by Enrique Morones, founder of the advocacy organization Border Angels, after inewsource first reported on Garage’s condition last February.

Morones told inewsource that he traveled to Washington to talk to Michael Fisher, head of the U.S. Border Patrol at the time, as well as to Mexico City to talk to government officials there.

“The help of Mike Fisher in Washington, D.C., was crucial,” Morones said.

Since those first stories, more than a dozen families have come forward, hoping that the man in long-term care was their lost brother or son. They asked about identifying birthmarks, or sent old photos to compare with the young man at Villa Coronado.


Eventually, a Border Patrol forensic team used biometric measurements, such as fingerprints and facial scans, to track down a potential relative, and DNA samples were sent for testing.

On Friday, the consulate called Morones. He said they told him, “We know who it is, and it’s the person that we suspected it was."

“I was so overjoyed and I thought this is fantastic," Morones said. "My whole purpose was just to get the family to see their relative — son, brother, whatever the case may be — (and) know he’s alive.”

inewsource first profiled Garage as part of “An Impossible Choice,” an investigation into special life support units — like Villa Coronado — throughout California. That investigation found more than 4,000 people living in those facilities, including eight whose identity was unknown.

Care for Garage and other individuals in similar situations costs Medi-Cal, California’s health insurance program for the poor and disabled, about $700 a day.

Garage, estimated to be in his 30s, is on a ventilator and cannot speak or respond to his environment.