PORTLAND, Ore. -- Conor McMahon was only three and a half hours into 2014 when it happened. A de-gloving injury, his doctors call it. The vehicle that hit him ripped his skin and soft tissue and muscle were ripped right off the bones in his back.
His pelvis is shattered, his nose broken, his two front teeth knocked out.
This is certainly not how the former Jesuit High football player and biomedical engineering student at Santa Clara University thought this year would begin.
Portland police are investigating the incident as an assault rather than a hit-and-run (although hit-and-run charges may still apply).
"If the act of hitting someone with a vehicle is intentional, then it’s an assault rather than a 'regular' hit-and-run," explains Portland police spokesman Peter Simpson.
It was the morning of New Year's Day around 3:30 a.m. Conor and his friend left a party near the University of Portland to try and get something to eat. They walked to a nearby Taco Bell on North Lombard but it was closed. His friend told Conor's family the man drove up and offered them a ride. They declined because the friend's father was already on his way to pick them up. The friend said there was no interaction beyond that, no altercation with the driver, nothing to encourage an attack.
But that's when things went awry.
Conor's friend said the vehicle pulled past them by about 30 to 40 yards, then stopped in the median, made a U-turn and accelerated. He recalls the SUV or minivan serving into the oncoming lane, hitting Conor from behind and then continuing down Lombard.
"He's got a lot to offer and for someone to try and take that away is just beyond words," said Patrick McMahon, Conor's father.
He says his son lost a third of his blood that night. He's grateful for the medical response that has saved his son's life. Conor has some internal injuries, but is mobile and healing. He has no neurological damage, but he's going to be in rehabilitation for several months.
Conor's family is anxious for answers.
"I've heard one vehicle tried to follow the perpetrator and he drove very fast and recklessly, and the car could not keep up with him. My fear is that memories fade and other potential witnesses and evidence washes away. I think this man needs to be off the street just for the health of society," McMahon said.
A source told KATU News police have a major interview in this case planned for Thursday, but so far investigators aren't sharing any information about a suspect vehicle or a suspect description. They're also not saying whether the Taco Bell got this whole thing on surveillance video, and they're withholding the recordings of 9-1-1 calls from the incident.
They are hoping to hear from other witnesses or anybody who knows about what happened to Conor McMahon.
A physician himself with Kaiser, Patrick McMahon spoke with KATU from a room at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, where Conor has battled back from critical care. At times, Patrick appeared on the brink of tears.
"Conor is a very good young man. He's very motivated and smart and he's got a lot to offer and for someone to try and take that way is just beyond words," said Patrick.