Houston native Natalie Romero was one the 19 people injured in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, after a car smashed into a group of people protesting a white nationalist rally. As she lies hospitalized, her mother has joined those calling for President Donald Trump to respond more aggressively to the attack.
“I don’t want President Trump’s words. I want actions,” Ericka Chaves said at a press conference in Houston on Monday.
She made the remarks about the same time as Trump, facing bipartisan criticism, had finally singled out Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis and white supremacists for condemnation, calling them “repugnant to what we hold dear as Americans.” Trump on Saturday had blamed “many sides” for the violence in Charlottesville ― remarks that spurred criticism but that he defended during a press conference Tuesday.
The 20-year-old Romero, a student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, suffered a skull fracture, a damaged lip and a gash on her forehead in the car attack, according to ABC News. A 32-year-old woman was killed by the car, allegedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr., 20, who had participated in the “Unite the Right” rally that sparked several violent confrontations.
Chaves is working with officials to see if her daughter can be transported from Virginia to Texas, so she can receive medical care closer to her family. Chaves also began a GoFundMe account, which is now fully funded, to help cover the costs of her daughter’s medical bills.
“We need her here,” Chaves told Houston TV station KHOU. “There’s nobody over there. Just her friends, and it’s not the same thing like to be with your family.”
Romero spoke to KHOU news by phone about her injuries on Sunday. “A lot of back pain and neck pain,” she said from her hospital bed. “Just a lot of bruises. I think when fell, I bit my lip. And so my lip is really busted and my face looks pretty horrible right now.”
KHOU reporter Melissa Correa spoke to Romero’s mother on Sunday. On Twitter, she shared images of Romero in the hospital and the text exchange between the student and her mother moments before she joined those protesting the white nationalist rally.
Correa also shared an audio file of Romero saying she was proud of her hometown, friends and family, and that she was glad people are talking about a “really important issue” on a national level.
Chaves, who immigrated from Colombia, told KHOU that Romero is attending the University of Virginia on a full scholarship and is the first in the family to attend college. Romero was starting her sophomore year.
When asked about whether once home, she’d want her daughter to return to Virginia, Chaves shook her head as she held back tears.
“No, I don’t. As a mother, I don’t,” she told reporters at the press conference. “But I know her and she will go back.”