by Virginia McCullough,  October 1, 2009

This reporter spoke with Steve Joynt, Assistant Editor of the Press Register , Mobile, Alabama's newspaper on September 30, 2009 and learned that while Jimmy G. Hughes originally hails from California, the murder suspect in the 1981 Alvarez triple executions also has spent time in Mobile, Alabama and considers it home.

Jimmy Hughes and his wife Jessica are affiliated with The Rock of Mobile church where the Senior Pastor is Aaron Smith. On this church’s web site the Apostle Smith writes, “We have a family, Jimmy and Jessica Hughes that live in Honduras and minister to Central and South America. Their ministry is to the military, prisons, children and youth ministry, orphanage and a rehabilitation center. We have sent two of our own to join their ministry in which we support.” (The Rock of Mobile Ministries - World Mission)

So it was natural for the Hughes family to turn to their fellow church members when their son was critically injured in an automobile accident in Honduras. Press Register reporter Rhoda A. Pickett, writes the excellent November 2, 2007 article that follows:

USA doctors repair skull of Honduran wreck victim
Joshua Hughes, son of Christian missionaries, begins therapy today in Birmingham
By Rhoda A. Pickett, Staff Reporter

The white skull sitting on the cabinet in a University of South Alabama Medical Center hospital room was an exact replica of the one in Joshua Hughes' head. The light blue shaded area indicated where bone was missing.

The replica was created to design plates that doctors placed in Joshua's skull during surgery this week.

On Thursday, Joshua was listed in fair condition at Children's Hospital Alabama Birmingham. He begins therapy there today after surgery in Mobile to restore parts of his skull removed by doctors after an August automobile accident in Honduras.

When asked how he's doing, the 15-year-old gave a thumbs-up with his left hand. He speaks little, but smiles easily.

The movements are more than his parents, Jimmy and Jessica Hughes, Christian missionaries who live in Honduras, were told they would see from their only son.

Jimmy Hughes is originally from California, but he lived for a while in Mobile and considers it home. Both of Joshua's parents were in the United States at the time of the wreck, and Jimmy Hughes began calling hospitals in U.S. cities to find help for his son.

Through connections at The Rock of Mobile, a non-denominational Christian church in Theodore, the family was put in touch with USA Medical Center. "Everyone went to work to give this young man an opportunity and a chance to live," said Aaron Smith, senior pastor of The Rock, which serves as the home base for the Hughes' mission.

According to Joshua's parents, this is how the Aug. 28 wreck unfolded:

Joshua was sitting in the front passenger seat of a Mitsubishi Montero, joined by two other students and the driver, when a dump truck carrying boulders pulled onto the mountain road in front of them.

The sport utility vehicle ran into the back of the dump truck. The impact knocked off the roof, and Joshua ended up with severe head trauma when he hit the back of the truck.

The SUV driver hailed an oil truck, which carried all four to the edge of Tegucigalpa, the capital.

Armed guards, frightened by the oil truck driver's speed, drew submachine guns and ordered the vehicle to stop. The soldiers saw the bloody accident victims. Within minutes, an ambulance arrived and carried Joshua to the hospital.

Honduran doctors feared that Joshua wouldn't live. His brain began to swell, and doctors removed part of his skull to relieve the pressure.

"I just told the Lord, I'm not going to question you; you are sovereign," Jessica Hughes said, "but just give me the strength to get through this trial."

Because the airport at Tegucigalpa doesn't have runway lights, the Hughes' had to wait until the next morning before they could reach Honduras.

"The doctors told us that he was in a very, very delicate condition," Jessica Hughes said. "They didn't know if he was going to make it."

Joshua was transported to USA Medical Center six weeks ago by an air ambulance, his father said. Joshua remained in the medical center's intensive care unit for three weeks.

"This has been a nightmare," said Jessica Hughes, a native of Guatemala. "Your emotions go up and down. ... It's been hell, but we just ask every day for God to give us strength. It's been one day at a time. When today is over, we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Dr. Anthony Martino, a University of South Alabama pediatric neurosurgeon, put the porous plates in Joshua's skull during a 21/2-hour surgery.

"He's going to have some damage, but I think we're all going to be surprised in a year," Martino said. "I think he will be tremendously better."

Joshua's parents are cautious, but hopeful.

"As long as you have breath in you, you still have hope," Jessica Hughes said. "It doesn't matter the circumstances; if you are breathing, there is hope."

Now Jimmy Hughes is facing another crisis in his life but the quotes attributed to his wife, Jessica in the previous article certainly will apply to the situation facing him now.

Virginia McCullough © 10/1/09