SANTA BARBARA — A teenage girl who was badly injured when a violent microburst hit a Santa Barbara beach last summer is now home and continuing her recovery after nearly two months in a hospital.
"I thank God every day," Alyssa Nuno, 16, told KEYT-TV in an interview broadcast Thursday.
Alyssa was cooling off with her family at West Beach during a Labor Day weekend heat wave when the sky rapidly changed with the formation of a microburst — a mass of air that rushes downward from a thunderstorm, hits the ground and blasts outward in all directions.
It was sprinkling when the family posed for a group picture and 20 seconds later it was hailing, recalled Alyssa's mother, Sandra Alamillo.
A fierce wind sent umbrellas and most everything else flying. Beachgoers scrambled to reach safety.
"The last thing I remember is running and then black," said Alyssa, who had fled with her boyfriend but became separated.
The storm quickly ended, but Alyssa couldn't be found for 15 minutes.
"Then, all I see is my husband. He picked up this big giant canoe and threw it off by himself," Alamillo said.
Alyssa was buried under the canoe, kayaks and other debris.
"Once they took the last one off of her, that's kind of when she rolled over," Alamillo said.
Bleeding from a huge head wound, Alyssa was rushed to a local hospital and then flown to Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
She had multiple fractures and a brain injury. Initially, she couldn't move or open her eyes but could nod when asked a question. She underwent two major surgeries.
Vision and strength problems remain and there may be more reconstructive surgery, but Alyssa is walking and has visited her high school and been honored at a homecoming football game.
Her mother is confident.
"She is going to wake up one day and say, 'Mom, I'm ready,'" Alamillo told KEYT.
Information from: KEYT-TV, http://www.keyt.com/