• Local family struggles to raise funds to bring injured woman home from Ecuador


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Kristen Poteat, 23, who recently graduated from UNC Greensboro, was visiting family in Ecuador when the brakes in their car failed, causing a serious crash.

    “We lost the brakes of the van and the car careened off the side of the mountain,” Kristen Poteat’s mother, Vivian Poteat, said.

    Kristen Poteat was planning for her wedding next month when she was hurt.

    She was thrown from the car and landed in a ditch where she lay until rescuers found her several hours later.

    Several others were injured, but Kristen Poteat suffered the worst with serious injuries to her spine, lungs, arm and head.

    She has been in and out of consciousness in an Ecuadorian hospital for the last two weeks.

    [ALSO READ: Rescue underway after hiker injured on Grandfather Mountain]

    The family had to pay for a private ambulance to take Kristen Poteat to a hospital 2 ½ hours away that could treat her.

    “I said, ‘I have insurance,’ and they said, ‘We don’t work like the U.S. works, so you’re going to have to pay us up front,’” Vivian Poteat said.

    The hospital wanted $60,000 up front to admit her, or they'd stop treatment.

    Family members and friends came together and raised about $14,000.

    “I wanted her to be a priority because it’s my baby and I want her home,” Vivian Poteat said.

    The hospital finally admitted Kristen Poteat, but the family still owes the rest of the money.

    In Charlotte, family member Diana Mendoza created a GoFundMe account to help with the funds.

    As long as Kristen Poteat remains stable, she could be flown home in the next day or two.

    Vivian Poteat, however, is still fighting with the hospital to release her daughter.

    “My daughter is strong. She’s strong I tell you, so I know she’s going to come out,” she said.

    Vivian Poteat said she contacted lawmakers and the embassy to intervene on her behalf.

    North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis’ office said they’re aware of the situation and are assisting the Poteat family.

    Next Up: