Not even allowed to touch her son's face, Patricia Phillips stood at Miles Dabord's bedside in a San Diego hospital Friday, wondering if she would ever know what happened to him and his brother.
She said she believes he was somehow responsible for the disappearance and presumed death of her other son, former NBA player Bison Dele, and two others. She added she feared he had attempted suicide in a fit of guilt, perhaps sending himself into a drug-induced coma.
It didn't matter. She is still his mother.
"I wanted to hug him, to stroke his face, to hold his hand," she said. Sheriff's deputies wouldn't allow it. "It was heart wrenching to see him like that."
Dabord, also known as Kevin Eugene Williams, was identified from fingerprints Thursday, nearly a week after he was discovered unconscious in Tijuana.
On Friday, he lay unconscious and hooked up to a respirator at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Chula Vista, Calif., under the watchful gaze of San Diego County sheriff's deputies. His mother said doctors told her he was suffering from brain damage.
Investigators had said they hoped Dabord, 35, would eventually wake up and explain his brother's disappearance.
Dele, 33, an ex-Maryland player who also went by the name Brian Williams before retiring from the NBA in 1999, vanished from his boat in the South Pacific in July along with his girlfriend, Serena Karlan, 30, and boat captain Bertrand Saldo. Dabord had been sailing with his brother.
Earlier this week, a French Polynesian police official said they were treating the disappearances as a murder investigation and suggested that Dabord may have been involved.
That presumption is based on the details of a conversation Dabord reportedly had with his girlfriend, Erica Weise.
Weise, who spent time with Dabord on the island of Moorea, near Tahiti, in early July, said Dabord told her there had been a fight on the boat and all three of the people he had been traveling with had been killed, police sources said.