One minute Gloria Estefan was on top of the world; the next she was writhing on the floor of her tour bus in excruciating pain. Since that snowy afternoon last March 20, when the bus collided with a truck on Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania, 20 miles outside of Scranton, her life has been an ordeal of pain and uncertainty. The accident fractured and dislocated two vertebrae in her back, damaging her central nervous system and requiring two eight-inch long, quarter-inch-thick stainless steel rods to be inserted in her back to straighten and protect her spinal cord. A football fan, Estefan has compared her recuperation to that of 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, who also came back from a career-threatening back injury. The operation left a 14-inch scar down her back; doctors told her she was lucky to be able to walk again.
Peter Parcher, Estefan’s lawyer, says she is ”a remarkable, courageous individual who has put on a bright face through a difficult rehabilitation,” but that, like an injured ballplayer, ”she can’t do what she once could. If she was able to perform six nights in a row before, for her upcoming tour, she’ll have to take a break after two or three.” No criminal charges were filed in the accident, but Estefan has initiated a damage suit against, among others, the driver of the truck. Parcher claims that her losses — in terms of missed tour dates and promotional opportunities for her last album, Cuts Both Ways — could exceed $10 million.