Family of Chimp Attack Victim Said She's in Denial

Family chimp attack victim Charla Nash said she's improving, but struggling.

March 5, 2009, 7:31 AM

May 15, 2009— -- The family of chimp attack victim Charla Nash said she continues to improve physically, but hasn't accepted the incident that caused her devastating injuries.

"She's is denial," her brother Steve Nash told "Good Morning America" today, adding that has not yet come to terms with the fact that her friend's 200-pound pet chimpanzee was responsible for nearly killing her back in February.

Nash's young daughter Brianna Nash said she's visited her mother twice and saw a big difference.

"She's doing pretty well. Coming from my first visit to my second visit, she's a lot more talkative," Brianna Nash said. "I can understand her a lot better."

Nash is still hospitalized at the Cleveland Clinic where she was transferred after being attacked in Stamford, Conn. at the home of her friend Sandra Herold, who had kept the chimp named Travis as a pet for years.

Connecticut investigators said this week that Travis, who was shot and killed by police after the attack, had traces of the prescription drug Xanax in his system, though it's unclear whether the medication played any role in the attack.

Herold initially told police she had given Travis Xanax earlier in some tea the day of the attack, but later backed away from that statement, saying the tablets never dissolved.

Nash suffered brain injuries and is now blind. She also lost her nose, lips, eyelids and hands in the attack. Her family has sued Herold for $50 million and prosecutors are considering filing charges against Herold.

Steve Nash said his sister has some hearing loss, but can smell and taste.

"Fortunately, her brain should be intact within a year's time," he said.

For Brianna Nash, knowing her mother pull through was the most important thing.

"As soon as I knew she was going to be mentally okay, I calmed down," she said.

Dr. Kevin Miller, a trauma surgeon at Stamford Hospital, where Nash was initially treated, told "Good Morning America" in March that Nash's recovery"could be a weeks-to-months type process."

Nash's injuries and blood loss at the scene and at the hospital, he said, were so severe that many people wouldn't have survived it.

"You could tell this woman, when she came in ? she needed to live, she had a reason to live," Miller said.

'It's Just Been Hell'

Herold could be heard on the 911 tape saying that she had tried stabbing her beloved pet, but he wouldn't stop. She begged officers to shoot the animal she had raised like a son.

"It's just been hell," Herold has said, "There's no way to explain it any different."

Herold and Nash had been friends for more than 30 years after riding horses in Loretta Lynn's traveling rodeo in the 70's.

They had plans to open a business together in April.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.