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

Posted by 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.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Chris I
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Chris I

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…

Steve B
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Steve B

Thanks for continuing to follow this important story, BikePortland.

Joe
Guest
Joe

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

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Guest
Kiel Johnson

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.

longgone
Guest
longgone

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.

JRB
Guest
JRB

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

Kristi Finney-Dunn
Guest

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.

Yuri Nashun
Guest
Yuri Nashun

This driver needs to burn.

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

TOM
Guest
TOM

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

Chris Sanderson
Guest

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.

jim
Guest
jim

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.

jim
Guest
jim

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.

Alain
Guest
Alain

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.

esther c
Guest
esther c

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

TOM
Guest
TOM

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.

Lori Cooley
Guest
Lori Cooley

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

Ellen
Guest
Ellen

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?

TOM
Guest
TOM

updates ?