Clad in a grape-colored jump suit, 16-month-old Bianca Quinones peeked from beneath the table in the governor's office Tuesday as well-wishers congratulated her mother for simply surviving.
Gloria Quinones, 24, was shot twice above the heart Nov. 4 by her estranged husband, Jorge Luis Santiago, 28, in the culmination of a three-day ordeal that left him dead.Quinones had separated from Santiago after learning he had tested positive for HIV before the couple's marriage. He was eventually diagnosed with AIDS.
She came forward Tuesday to publicly thank the friends and strangers who helped her survive the November incident, including Jane Sager, a Washington Terrace woman who attempted to rescue Quinones in a Smith's Food & Drug parking lot.
"I think of Gloria quite a bit," said Sager. "This look that went across her face was total loss of hope. It just broke my heart."
Problems between Santiago and Quinones escalated Nov. 2 when he shot 50-year-old Lucy Valdez at her North Redwood home. Valdez intercepted a bullet aimed at Bianca Quinones. Santiago then kidnapped his estranged wife at gunpoint and held her captive during a trip to Portland, Ore., and back.
On Nov. 4, Sager attempted to help Quinones at a Smith's parking lot in Ogden, but Santiago shot out her car tires.
The couple's marriage officially ended hours later on a stretch of U-201 near the 4000 West off-ramp when police surrounded their car and Santiago shot his wife twice, then himself.
Quinones, a Mexican native from the Sinaloa province, does not speak English. Her comments were translated Tuesday by Kathy Worthington, a friend who is helping the woman recuperate from a marriage marred by violence and brutality.
In the months since the incident, Quinones has lived with the Valdez family in the North Redwood area. Her parents arrived from Mexico in November, and she plans to return with them to Sinaloa to rest and contemplate her future.
Of top concern is Quinones' health. She was hospitalized twice since November with a collapsed lung and fluid around her heart. Before the kidnapping, she tested negative for HIV. But during the trip to Oregon, Santiago forced intercourse twice, again exposing Quinones to the virus.
So far, she hasn't shown the symptoms typical of HIV and has tested negative during each hospital stay, Worthington told the Deseret News.
"She survived nine months living with him," Worthington said. "There's a very good chance she'll come out clean."
Despite obvious health concerns, Quinones appeared composed and at peace Tuesday.
"She's really happy to have a chance to say thank you to the people who helped her," Worthington said. "Even before this became a public story, people were pitching in and helping Gloria."
Quinones presented gifts and words of thanks to Sager; the Utah Highway Patrol; Olivia and Bill LeFebre, who cared for her after she was released from the hospital; Lucy and Robert Valdez; Worthington and an anonymous health-care worker who, suspecting Quinones didn't know her husband had AIDS, possibly risked her job to tell Quinones of his condition.
Gov. Mike Leavitt presented commendations to Sager and Lucy Valdez, who is still recuperating from a bullet lodged in her spine.
"This is a story in which there was great courage shown by many people," Leavitt said. "It was a dramatic story where people stepped forward to do a good thing."