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As hit-and-run victim leaves coma, suspect remains on the loose

Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on July 3rd, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Mike Cooley, shown here ready to head out on his
daily bike commute, may never walk again.
The man who drove his truck into him
is still on the loose.
(Photos courtesy Lisa Cooley)

Update, July 5: The Cooleys have set up a fund for those wishing to support Mike's recovery. See below for details.

Two weeks after a white Ford pickup reportedly hit him from behind at 60 mph, postal driver Mike Cooley is still in critical condition at Legacy Emanuel Hospital and the person whose actions nearly killed him is still at large.

The crash took place June 15th on North Interstate Avenue near Greeley. Police have distributed photos of the truck that may have hit Cooley, with little results so far.

"There's only been one tip, and it was completely bogus," said Cooley's wife, Lori Cooley, in an interview with BikePortland yesterday.

Lori and Mike Cooley.

About five days ago, Lori Cooley said, her 59-year-old husband regained consciousness. He can now make efforts to speak, but he remains without sensation in his legs.

"They're telling me he has a five percent chance of walking," Lori Cooley said. "I'm trying not to believe that."

Mike Cooley, a 15-year bike commuter who also builds bikes as a hobby, was pedaling a narrow, northbound stretch of Interstate at 11:30 p.m., up the hill when a white Ford pickup that witnesses said was "driving erratically" hit him from behind, sending him flying through the air, crushing all but three of his ribs and completely crushing two vertebrae.

"He doesn't remember anything, which is good," Cooley said of her husband.

It's been a frightening two weeks for Cooley, who said she has a life-threatening illness herself.

"Mike's always the one to take care of me, and now he's sick," she said. "We've got to find the guy that did this, and hopefully he'll have insurance that'll help. His car was really in good shape, so we're hoping he had insurance on it. But you never know."

(Note: police haven't made any statements about the gender of the driver.)

Though he remains on a ventilator and is "still very confused" much of the time, Cooley said her husband has been repeating one message for media.

"He keeps trying to talk and he keeps saying tell people to wear helmets," Cooley said. "The helmet saved his life, no question."

Mike worked at the downtown post office and had been commuting by bike for 15 years.

Here's the police's description of the truck they suspect of hitting Mike Cooley:

A white 1993-1997 Ford F350 Crewcab pickup. The truck is believed to have two chrome step-up bars, at least on the driver's side, and damage to the right front headlight area.

There's a $1,000 cash reward for information that leads to an arrest in this case.

If you know anything, please leave a tip at CrimeStoppers online, text CRIMES (274637) and in the subject line put 823HELP, followed by your tip, or call (503) 823-HELP (4357).

Update: Lori Cooley writes to add that you can support the family's "horrific" medical expenses by donating in Mike Cooley's name by visiting or calling any U.S. Bank branch. "I'm disabled as well and have virtually no income and absolutely cannot work on any level," she writes. "Therefore, we are desperate for money. Anything would help. It is very awkward to even bring it up, but I know the people of Portland care and donate when they can. I myself have donated to many of these kinds of funds. If we all cared a little less about ourselves and a lot more about others, the world would be a gentler and more serene place."

Photos of the truck suspected in the crash are below.

Keep your eyes peeled for a truck like this with front-end damage.

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Comments
  • Chris I July 3, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Has the Oregonian published this story, with a picture of the vehicle? I'm fairly sure that the drive is not a BikePortland reader... I've shared this on social media, but I definitely don't know him either. It would be nice if our "mainstream" media would use their power for good from time to time...

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 3, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      Hey, Chris, they have run the story:
      http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2013/06/hit-and-run_driver_in_portland.html

      It took a couple clicks to find the photo of the truck, though:
      http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2013/06/reward_offered_for_tips_on_dri.html

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      • BIKELEPTIC July 3, 2013 at 6:13 pm

        Has a Vancouver newspaper posted anything? I was just remembering this Friday afternoon and I saw almost no Oregon licence plates. All WA plates heading back to Vancouver at 3:30 backed up for about 5 miles on Marine Drive. It was insane. (A car in fact had come down and was driving ON the bike/ped path!! I think accidently in an attempt to flip around to try to flee the back up and failed)

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    • Lori Cooley July 7, 2013 at 11:30 pm

      Hi Chris I, this is Lori Cooley, wife of Michael Cooley that was involved in the near fatal bicycle accident a few wks ago. The Oregonian did a lovely article on Mike and they posted several stories online. The mainstream media has been gracious enough to do several stories on Mike. We have printed close to 500 fliers that we have posted all over town but mostly in N and NE Ptld with pictures of the truck that hit Mike. We are hoping that there will be so many people looking for this truck that eventually we will find him. We forgive him but at the same time he needs to be accountable for his actions.
      Thanks for your interest in our story
      Lori Cooley

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  • Steve B July 3, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks for continuing to follow this important story, BikePortland.

    Recommended Thumb up 11

  • Joe July 3, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    breaks my heart someone could do this and not do the right thing.
    get well man!

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    • Lori Cooley July 7, 2013 at 11:33 pm

      Ney Joe, thanks for your kind comments about my husband Mike that was involved in the bicycle accident. He is getting better everyday but still doesnt have the use of his legs or much use of his left arm.
      Blessings to you,
      Lori Cooley
      wife of Michael Cooley

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  • Kiel Johnson July 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    wow, Mike looks like a cool dude, and someone that takes a lot more safety precautions than I do. I hope they nab that white truck. things like this make me support more traffic cameras.

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    • Lori Cooley July 7, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      Hey Kiel, This is Lori Cooley, wife of one "very cool dude"! Mike is a very safe bicyclist. He was lit up like a church and had on 2 reflective vests, 5 flashing lights and over 10 reflective strips. There is no way someone wouldn't have seen him!
      I am blessed to be married to one of the kindest, sweetest and loving men out there. We have no idea why bad things happen to good people. But we do know that in the end, some good will come out of all of this. You for instance have blessed me and made me laugh with your "cool dude" comment! Thanks for that!
      Lori Cooley

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  • longgone July 3, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    1st.. To Mike: Hang tough buddy.
    2nd..To Lori: Keep the faith. One of my oldest/dearest racing buddies was nearly killed dirt track racing in the mid-50's.His right arm was attached only by one tendon, and he had severe motor nerve damage to just about everything.
    Not only did they tell him he would have to lose his arm,yada,yada..They told him he would never be able to walk correctly or run etc...
    He is now 82, has the use of both arms still, and rides his dirt bike every weekend.
    3rd..To PPD: Get on the stick, and review every traffic light video that evening in all directions..C'mon..this can not be that hard of a truck to find.

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  • JRB July 3, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    This is so sad. I can't help but think that alcohol or another intoxicant had something to do with the accident and the driver's decision to flee the scene. Perhaps it's too big brotherish, but I wonder if it would be possible to have all vehicles installed with some sort of gps connected-sensor, which sends data to a law enforcement repository in the event of a collision. Police would only need to search it in the event of a hit and run, e.g. they could do a search to see if there was any electronic notification from a vehicle at the time and place of the collision. Doesn't On-Star and similar services already do something much like this? I suppose you could run into some civil liberties-based argument that it violates a person's 5th amendment right against self-incrimination. On the other way, nobody is required to purchase a motor vehicle and the decision to purchase one with knowledge that it is equipped with such a device could constitute a waiver of the 5th amendment right. This raises some serious technical and legal questions, but to me it's worth consideration. Hitting somebody with your car may not be intentional, but deciding to leave them seriously injured and possibly dying in the street is a violent crime that to me belongs in the same category as murder, attempted murder, rape, and other physical assaultsl

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    • Yuri Nashun July 3, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      Sorry JRB with all due respect, I don't agree. We need to go after the drunks and distracted drivers. Plenty of cool and competent people out there behind the wheel who don't need government overstepping their bounds more than they already have.

      Make examples of drivers like this when they are caught. That is what needs to be done.

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      • CaptainKarma July 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm

        Seriously, rights given up never return, sans revolution. However, since they are already tracking our cellphones' travels and locations, seems like they could cross reference the cell numbers that drove past that point at the exact moment of collision with a list of white ford trucks registered in WA & OR.

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        • are July 3, 2013 at 6:51 pm

          for example, the right to use a public space without being knocked down by a three ton piece of steel

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  • Kristi Finney-Dunn July 3, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    My heart goes out to Mike and Lori. I can't imagine the not knowing. Hit-and-run is bad enough without every question being unanswered. It hurts to know your loved one was left on the road as if no more important than a possum! I would like to talk to Lori, if she's interested.

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    • Kristi Finney-Dunn July 4, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      .... my 28 year old son was killed by a selfish hit and run driver while riding in a bike lane almost 2 years ago. ... almost two years ago... I don't want to believe it's been so long since I've talked to him... But this is why I'd like to talk to Lori or other family.

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    • Lori Cooley July 7, 2013 at 11:26 pm

      Kristi, this is Lori Cooley. Thanks for your kind comments about my husband's bicycle accident. I'm so sorry you lost your beloved son. It is only a miracle of God that Mike survived. He came so close to dying and stayed iat death's door for over 2 wks. He was in a coma for 2 wks and that was really scary. I so longed to hear his voice and be with him. He is awake now and able to communicate by spelling,etc. I was terrified that I would lose him. We have been married for 34 yrs and we are very close. I praise God for the man that stopped and did CPR on Mike. If he hadn't done that, he probably wouldn't have survived. When the fire dept got on the scene, Mike didn't have a heart beat, wasn't breathing and was unconscious. By the grace of God he survived. But his injuries are extensive and it is still unknown if he will have the use of his legs and left arm. There is still no action in that dept. Thanks again for your concern and I'm so sorry you lost your son. I would be willing to talk to you but I don't want to put my phone # in this forum. Any ideas?....

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      • Kristi Finney July 11, 2013 at 12:36 am

        Oh, Lori, it is so good to hear that he is doing better! I am sure that he is getting very good care where he is and that things can only improve from here. I am so thankful that you have each other and it sounds as though your faith is a great comfort to you as well. I am okay with putting my email here and you can contact me there if you wish. finnekk@comcast.net. Our experiences are similar and yet different, of course, but maybe together we can be stronger than we could be alone. To get a sense of who I am and learn more about our story, you can search bikeportland for Dustin Finney or check out a blog I started last year about traffic safety, forgiveness, and grief: facesoffatalities.blogspot.com. Thank you for your condolences on the loss of my precious son. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

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  • Yuri Nashun July 3, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    This driver needs to burn.

    Sorry I just can't believe how angry this makes me.

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  • TOM July 3, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    I find it incredible that OR & WA DMV's cannot look into their databases and check for white Ford F350 pickup.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • longgone July 4, 2013 at 6:43 am

      Especially a White Crew cab 4x4 for gods sake....

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    • Lori Cooley July 7, 2013 at 11:41 pm

      Hey Tom, the police have checked into DMV records for Ford F-350 pick ups. Problem is that vehicles aren't listed by color. There are over 6000 Ford F-350 pick ups in Oregon alone. There is no way that police can go looking for 6000 pick ups. We're hopeful that they have some other leads or tricks up their sleeves. We are desperate to find the person that hit my husband and left him for dead on the side of the road. Keep looking people!
      Blessings to you Tom,
      Lori Cooley
      wife of Michael Cooley, hit and run bicycle crash victim

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  • Chris Sanderson July 3, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    It would seem to me that police detectives would place a high priority on this one, since it nearly cost Cooley his life. Agree with you TOM that they should have somebody scouring databases in Oregon and Washington.

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  • jim July 4, 2013 at 4:42 am

    If they would fix I-5 the Washington traffic wouln't need to cut through the few local arterial s to get back and forth. When they made Interstate Ave into a 2 lane instead of a 4 lane it just made things worse. Now they are doing the same to N Williams Ave.. They need to make I-5 drivable.

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  • jim July 4, 2013 at 4:52 am

    Down on Swan Island the workers there like big trucks and when the whistle blows they literally race each other off the island. That is where I would look for that truck.

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  • Alain July 4, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    This is a horrible situation for Mike and Lori. Not only to I hope the criminal is located, but has the insurance to help support Mike and Lori in their present situation.

    I echo the comments of others here... with the truck clearly identified, why is it so difficult to locate. It's got to be in Oregon or Washington, and chances are the truck is registered to someone in Portland (maybe North Pdx) or Vancouver.

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  • esther c July 4, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    If they catch the guy they can fine him $400 and sentence him to 3 months in jail. Oh boy, that'll teach him.

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    • Yuri Nashun July 5, 2013 at 7:38 am

      Sadly that will probably be the extent of it.

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  • TOM July 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    maybe we could get JM to use a little of his pulpit to call this incident "vehicular terrorism" , then Home Land Security could surely find the perp.

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  • Lori Cooley July 14, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    7-14-12
    Hello, Bike Portland readers! I am pleased to say that Mike is getting better every day! Sadly though, he still has no use of either leg or much use of his left arm. The doctors say we need to adjust to the fact that Mike will be a parapalegic, but we still have faith that he will recover at least some of the use of his legs. In fact he may be leaving ICU this week after 4 1/2 weeks! I can't believe more than a month have passed and we're no closer to arresting the perp that did this to Mike. I hate to say it but the police arent doing anything other than waiting for tips to come in. Really? Are you kidding me? I almost lost my beloved husband of 35 yrs and there is nothing further they can do? Mike's parents have been beating the pavement passing out fliers of the truck that hit Mike with reporting/reward info. Hopefully soon, someone will either see the truck or the driver is going to start talking to people. Hopefully there will be someone honest that has compassion for my broken husband and will blow the whistle! Please keep looking, people!
    Blessings to you,
    Lori Cooley
    wife of hit and run bicycle accident 6-15-13

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  • Ellen July 21, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Hi Lori...there's a very good resource on paralysis.
    http://www.miamiproject.miami.edu/page.aspx?pid=462
    My heart aches for you, knowing the road you have ahead of you, with your own physical condition and financial situation. My daughter was rendered a paraplegic in a car accident six years ago. She resides in a long term care facility as I do not have the means to care for her properly. If I could offer one piece of unsolicited advice...let go of thoughts of catching the perpetrator or hoping for the returned use of leg function. Contact the "Employee Assistance Plan" through your husband's job. I think the USPS has an emergency assistance fund for injured employees. Perhaps you could ask your husband's supervisor to solicit donations. You need to begin marshalling resources that will assist you his eventual homecoming and begging, wheedling & cajoling are what you are going to quickly become very proficient at. I don't live in Oregon so I don't know how their social services offices are set up but you should inquire with a case worker at the hospital. Another thing, don't be so quick to pay medical bills. They can be discharged in a bankruptcy filing. Keep funds out of the bank and liquid, the poorer you are on paper, the more services you are eligible for. [sigh] Please keep us updated, you mentioned he may leave ICU soon?

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  • TOM September 4, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    updates ?

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