Tina Frost, a survivor of the Las Vegas shooting and daughter of Long Island native Rich Frost, has started to speak and can walk on her own after being in a coma and losing her eye in the attack, her father said.
“This is definitely the best week she’s had and she’s doing remarkably well,” Rich Frost, a 1974 Massapequa High School graduate, said last week. “We’ve had no scares this week, no fevers, no setbacks, no high blood pressure.”
His daughter, 27, of San Diego, was shot in the head Oct. 1 while attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival, and still faces a long recovery that will include reconstruction of her forehead, said Rich Frost, who lives in Baltimore.
Still, Tina Frost is progressing in her treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, recently receiving a device that allows her to speak through her trachea. It’s the first time she’s been able to speak since the shooting that left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured.
“She says some short phrases,” Rich Frost said. “Most notably, she says ‘I love you’ to her boyfriend all the time ... she says ‘daddy,’ and that’s heartwarming.”
Her boyfriend, Austin Hughes, was at the concert with Tina Frost. He and another friend carried her about 300 yards to the street, Amy Klinger, a family friend and spokeswoman said.
Despite the small victories and progress of his daughter’s recovery, Rich Frost said he remains cautious with his emotions.
“Every time I get all pumped up about it and excited and it’s wonderful, I quickly temper that,” he said. “We can’t ride the highs too much because you never know what the next setback is going to be. So it’s all guarded optimism.”
Despite that, he said his daughter is rapidly relearning to speak through therapy, and that she’s been more interactive in the past few days.
“She’s sounding more and more like her old self,” Rich Frost said. “She’s made a lot of progress.”
Initially, her ability to just answer questions with a “yes” or “no” was a major communication breakthrough for the family.
“Physically she is great,” Rich Frost said. “She’s strong, she can walk on her own. She wears a helmet to protect her head because she has little forehead up there and if she were to ever fall on her head it would be catastrophic.”
Tina Frost does not yet know what happened with the shooting — or that she’s lost an eye.
“We don’t really know how much she knows,” he said. “But she’s in the hospital and she understands that.”
He said he plans to work with experts at the hospital when it’s time to communicate to Tina the extent of her injuries and the reconstructive surgeries ahead of her.
“We can’t risk her getting totally depressed or more trauma to her brain,” he said. “If she knew that she didn’t have an eye, we don’t want that pain on her yet. So we’ve been able to keep that from her.”
The important thing, he said, is that she is never alone.
“We’re there all the time, 24 hours a day either me, her mother or her boyfriend are there with her, staying awake, making sure she’s OK.” Tina Frost’s mother, Mary Watson Moreland, also lives in Maryland.
Despite the ups and downs, Rich Frost said he’s finding room for gratitude.
“She’s alive,” he said. “There’s 58 that didn’t make it.”