Bahta Wibshet was hospitalized after he was injured in a crash in Kiowa County. He spent 11 days at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

By Ellie Mulder (Colorado Springs Gazette) |

Everything that Bahta Wibshet had with him was destroyed in a crash that engulfed his truck in flames and sent him to UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central more than a week ago.

With few resources and no family in the United States, Bahta Wibshet, 36, had no way to get home – but the hospital’s staff rallied around the truck driver from Ethiopia who’s living in Texas.

“I felt very lonely, but the nurses are very friendly, and I like them all very much,” he said in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, through a translator.

“I am happy,” he said in English.

Discharging Bahta Wibshet from the hospital posed a range of difficulties, especially when it came to getting him back to Texas, said Courtney Hoffbauer, a nurse manager. For example, his identifying documents burned in the crash, but he couldn’t have flown on a commercial airline without them.

Hoffbauer helped arrange transportation through Angel Flight West, a nonprofit organization that provides free flights to those in need. On Tuesday – his 11th day in the hospital – she plans to drive him to the Colorado Springs Airport herself in one of the hospital’s rehabilitation vans.

Arranging for Bahta Wibshet to get back to Texas wasn’t the hospital’s responsibility, “but it’s the human factor” and the “nurse factor” that inspired them to help, Hoffbauer said.

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