San Diego retiree injured in African tour bus tragedy

Posted at 5:38 PM, Oct 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-09 21:20:17-04

SANTEE, Calif. (KGTV) — A dream trip to Africa for a Santee grandmother turned into a nightmare as she sat in a tour bus.

Daughter-in-law Tomira Baca-Craig says Jeanette Craig, who retired four years ago, left for South Africa two weeks ago. Jeanette had been saving for the trip for more than a year.  It was her first trip to Africa.

A few days after she arrived, she was on a tour bus headed to an animal preserve in the landlocked country of Lesotho when the bus overturned, killing three and injuring more than 12 tourists on board, including Jeanette.

"Because she had her seatbelt on, she wasn't thrown. She was trapped upside down. When the bus rolled, that's when she sustained all her injuries," said Baca-Craig.

Jeanette was transported by helicopter to a clinic just outside Lesotho. She has since undergone several surgeries, suffering a fractured pelvis and leg, and torn ligaments in her legs.

"Now her pain is just shocking. There's a ton of breakthrough pain every time she shifts because the pelvis is bone on bone," said Baca-Craig.

Jeanette is comforted by her daughter, who just arrived in South Africa. Loved ones say they just want to bring her home.  

"We'd like to get an MRI and another CT scan to and rule out everything else because it was such a traumatic accident," said Baca-Craig. 

The problem? The trip insurance Jeanette purchased will only cover the original medical evacuation, not a second one to the U.S., which will cost upwards of $170,000.
The family has started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay the bill.

"She's tired and scared. She just wants to be home," said Baca-Craig.