Gloria Estefan Details Near-Death Experience In 1990 Bus Crash: 'The Pain Was Excruciating'
Estefan even recalled what it felt like to have sex for the first time during recovery — “Oh no, is this going to be like this?”
Gloria Estefan and her family reflected on the 1990 bus crash that nearly claimed their lives on Wednesday’s new episode of “Red Table Talk.”
30 years ago, the singer’s tour bus was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler while they sat in traffic in Pennsylvania. The accident led to her hospitalization, back surgery and almost a year of physical therapy to get her back on her feet.
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“It felt like an explosion, huge, I open my eyes and I’m on the floor of the bus and I am looking around and it is mayhem,” Gloria recalled on her Facebook Watch series. “I said, ‘I think I broke my back.’ I tried to get up, I had the taste of electricity in my mouth. The pain was excruciating.”
In the first moments after the crash, she feared for her son Nayib, who didn’t immediately answer her or husband Emilio Estefan’s calls. Finally, he replied, with Gloria remembering how hard it was to “not lose it” in front of him when he sat next to her as she couldn’t move.
“This angel appeared in the doorway,” Gloria continued, saying she still wishes she knew the name of the nurse who was first to help her. “She grabbed my head and created a human neck brace. My spine was resting on a sliver of bone.”
She was transported to the hospital, with Emilio revealing he fainted when doctors told him his wife had broken her back. “They told me, no more babies, because she probably cannot carry it,” he added.
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As word of her accident started to hit the news, there were some reports claiming Estefan was killed in the crash — reports which got back to her own family members.
“I drove with the news on loop saying that my sister was dead,” Estefan’s sister Rebecca explained. “My world crumbled.”
The singer’s own mother — who she had been estranged from for two years at the time of the accident — also heard she had died.
“She had never wanted me to pursue a career in music and blamed Emilio for it,” said Gloria, explaining their estrangement. “When we took Becky on the road with us, that was the final straw. She blew her top and said to me, ‘If you take your sister, I’m never speaking to you again.'”
The family was able to bury the hatchet as they came together to rally around Gloria in the hospital. Rebecca, meanwhile, was tasked with collecting some personal items from the crash scene — which sounded horrific.
“There was bloody handprints all over the bus. Shoes, 7,000 champagne bottles and they were all shattered,” she recalled. “I thought, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe they survived this.'”
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During the conversation, Estefan also revealed that her then very young son actually believed he may have been responsible for the crash.
“[Nayib] was dying inside and only fearfully told his tutor and she told me that coincidentally, the day before my accident, they were out on a sidewalk and they were playing, ‘Step on a crack, break your mother’s back,'” she explained. “And he was so afraid that it had been his fault.”
She, of course, reassured him that wasn’t the case.
Estefan went on to say that “it wasn’t until I was the recipient of everyone’s collective thoughts, that I clearly understood” the power of prayer. “I would imagine nerves reconnecting. Literally, I was sucking in that energy that I was feeling.”
After back surgery, she was sent home for recovery. That’s when Emilio really had to step in and help take care of her. He had to help change her, bathe her and more — but said the time was a “blessing” and only proved how much they truly loved each other.
According to Estefan, it took her four months to be able to put her underwear on by herself. “I wanted to throw a party,” she joked.
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Niece and cohost Lili Estefan then wondered what sex was like for her aunt and uncle following the accident.
“It scared the hell out of me,” revealed Gloria. “I can tell you this, I felt bad for [Emilio] too because we were young, super young and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Oh my god.’ I rallied for him too, it was months though.”
“The first time that that happened, what I felt was like, ‘Oh no, is this going to be like this?'” she remembered. “I had nerves that were disconnected for weeks. Thank god that the second time, it was fine. The first time really scared me.”
Four years after the accident, despite being told she may never have children, she gave birth to “miracle baby” daughter Emily.
The episode ended with Emily and Gloria performing a duet of “Coming Out of the Dark,” which was inspired by her recovery and became the third Number 1 single of Estefan’s career.
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