HONG KONG — The sole surviving child of a Hong Kong woman with Canadian citizenship who lost her husband and two daughters in a Philippine bus hijacking has woken from a coma and identified his mother nearly two months after the tragedy, his doctor said Wednesday.
A disgruntled former police officer commandeered a bus carrying Hong Kong tourists, including the Leung family, in the Philippine capital, Manila, on Aug. 23. Millions around the world watched on live TV as police commandos exchanged fire with hostage-taker Rolando Mendoza after daylong negotiations broke down. Eight Hong Kongers died before Mendoza was killed by a sniper.
Hong Kong was particularly moved by the plight of the Leungs, natives of the wealthy southern Chinese financial hub with Canadian passports. The father, Ken, died trying to subdue the gunman, who then killed his two daughters, 21-year-old Doris and 14-year-old Jessie. The only survivors were the mother, Amy, and 18-year-old son Jason, who fell into a coma after suffering a head wound that still hasn't been explained.
About two months after being flown back to Hong Kong for treatment, Jason regained consciousness last week and spoke his first words, his doctor announced at a news conference Wednesday.
The reason for the delay in announcing the news wasn't immediately clear, but officials have been highly protective of Jason and his mother's privacy amid intense media interest.
"When Mrs. Leung was next to Jason, one of our colleagues asked him who this is. He said, 'That's mommy.' When asked 'what is your mother's name?' He answered, 'Amy.' Our colleague still wasn't satisfied and asked him what his name is. He responded, 'Jason,'" Dr. Dawson Fong said.
Fong added that Jason was able to read Chinese and English words doctors showed him, shake hands with guests and wave goodbye when they left, as well as gesture OK.
The neurosurgeon, however, cautioned that Jason's motor functions are still restricted and full recovery is still far off.
"His legs have regained some strength, but he has still a very long way to go before standing up. Our next challenge is the movement of his four limbs. It is not a small challenge," Fong said.
Still, the fact that Jason is awake made his mother and supporters ecstatic.
"The feeling of relief I experienced cannot be described with words. I can only be grateful," Jason's mother said in a letter to the public read at the news conference.
Well-wishers flooded a Facebook page set up for Jason, a graduate of Bronte College secondary school in the Canadian city of Mississauga, Ontario, with enthusiastic postings.