When a Coma Isn't One

Robert Wendland isn't comatose. He's minimally conscious. Still, his wife wants to let him die

Curled up on her living-room sofa, Rose Wendland speaks about her husband Robert in loving, admiring words--"very handsome, always well groomed." She describes the Stockton, Calif., auto-parts salesman as a self- taught mechanical whiz with an insatiable appetite for books. He was a devoted father, she says, who enjoyed nothing more than taking their three kids boating on the nearby Stockton delta.

Of course, that was more than seven years ago, before the night he got wildly drunk and flipped his Dodge Ram truck, bringing his seemingly sweet life to a crashing halt. Today Wendland, 48, lies in Lodi Memorial Hospital,...

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