Navaira seriously injured in crash


HOUSTON -- Grammy-winning Tejano singer Emilio Navaira may not survive a severe brain injury suffered when his tour bus slammed into traffic barrels on a Houston interstate, his neurosurgeon said Monday.

"There is a chance he may not make it," said Dr. Alex Valadka, director of neurotrauma services at Memorial Hermann in the Texas Medical Center and vice chair of neurosciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

"Everyone needs to understand that right upfront. That's how bad it is."

Valadka and his team operated for two hours to remove a blood clot that was putting pressure on Navaira's brain after the singer was brought to the hospital after the wreck before dawn Sunday.

The 45-year-old singer and six members of his band and entourage were hurt in the crash. One other band member remained hospitalized Monday, said Joe Casias, Navaira's agent since 1989.

Valadka said Navaira was in a coma when he arrived at the hospital but the surgery went well. Navaira also had fractures to his back and other bruises typical of such a wreck but the brain injury was the most serious, he said.

Asked whether the injuries were career-ending, Valadka replied: "We're talking about whether or not he even makes it."

Valadka said it was too early to predict what the singer's condition would be if he eventually recovers.

"This is not like you see on TV and the movies where people get hit in the head and people wake up and go home the next day," Valadka said. "In the real world, it takes a long time. But we hope every day there will be a little bit of progress."

Casias said Navaira, a San Antonio native he described as "like a brother," was driving the tour bus but wouldn't say if he was aware Navaira wore a seat belt.

"He loved driving that bus," Casias said. "He would drive it in and drive it out."

Casias said any questions about whether alcohol may have contributed to the wreck were being investigated by police in Bellaire, the Houston enclave where the crash occurred on Interstate 610. Navaira and his band, Rio, had performed at a Houston club Saturday night.

They were returning to the San Antonio area, where they lived. Navaira and the band had been scheduled to head to California for tour dates later this week.

Navaira and Rio have released more than a dozen albums, including "Acuerdate," which won the Grammy for best Tejano album. Navairo benefited from the explosion of Tejano into the popular music scene brought on by Selena, who was killed in 1995.

According to the band's Web site, Navaira earned a music scholarship from Texas State University. In 1989, he formed the band with brother Raul, who was among those who suffered minor injuries in the crash.

Navaira, who has been married twice, has five children ranging in age from 2 to 18.

A Democrat, Navaira nevertheless toured with Texas Gov. George W. Bush during his 1998 re-election bid and sang a song called "Juntos Con Bush (Together With Bush)."