SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – Richard Pierce has kept a constant vigil at his wife’s bedside since she was pulled from the flaming wreckage of a plane crash in Riverside.
It’s a vigil filled with hopes and prayers.
“I’m terrified that she won’t make it,” he told KPIX 5. “But I’m putting all my faith in God and I believe she is going to pull through and we’re going to have a home.”
It has been week since firefighters pulled Joanne Stacey Pierce through a bedroom window after she was ejected from a private plane carrying and her parents and two other family friends that crash into a Riverside neighborhood shortly after takeoff.
The group was returning to San Jose from watching Pierce’s daughter, Brooke, take part in a cheerleading competition.
She suffered third-degree burns over 90 percent of her body and underwent surgery. Both her legs have been amputated and she has yet to begin to talk.
Her mother, 67-year-old Dana Hijazi, was killed along with her stepfather 83-year-old Nouri Hijazi and family friend 22-year-old Adine Ferales.
Another family friend – Adine’s mother Sylvia Ferales — was found on the lawn near the wreckage. Neighbors helped firefighters to pull her across the street, away from the burning homes. She was being treated for possible airway burns.
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While a cause of the crash had yet to be determined, the 43-year-old plane registered to Nouri Hijazi took off in poor weather.
Richard Pierce had talked with his wife before take-off and begged her to take a commercial flight.
“All day I told my wife, ‘Please take a commercial flight home,’” he said. “And she said, ‘No we’ll be fine.’”
Richard Pierce said it has been a struggle watching his wife battle for her life.
“Her face looks like the beautiful face she has always had,” he said. “Her back and rear are pretty burned. They are doing skin grafts tomorrow (Tuesday) and she lost her legs.”
She doesn’t remember the crash, so Richard has filled her in just a little.
“I said, ‘Honey you were in a crash, you are going to be fine,’” he said. “When the kids walked in, she was excited and the bells and whistles went off.”
But he has yet to tell his wife that her parents and a family friend were killed in the crash.