Man hopes for arrest in hit-run crash that left his legs paralyzed

Man hopes for arrest in hit-run crash that left his legs paralyzed

PORTLAND, Ore. – Mike Cooley has been in the hospital since a hit-and-run crash earlier this summer left his legs paralyzed. He can now finally talk.

Cooley says the arrest of a suspect in another hit-and-run case gives him hope that police will find the driver who hit him.

In that case, police arrested 29-year-old Miriam Ann Clinton after they say she hit and seriously injured 20-year-old Henry Schmidt on Southwest Barbur Boulevard nearly two weeks ago.

Cooley is concerned that police won’t ever find the driver who hit him because they don't have any strong leads.

Cooley's accident happened in June. He hasn't been out of the hospital since and initially doctors didn't think he would make it. He beat the odds, though, and a few weeks ago he moved to the rehab center at Good Samaritan Hospital.

"One day you're just doing your normal thing and then I wake up, I don't know how many days later, in the hospital," he said Monday. "But I know I can get through it."

Cooley says he doesn't remember anything after he was hit while riding his bike home from work. And he's only recently learned about the investigation into who hit him on June 15 and left him on Interstate Avenue in North Portland.

Cooley's wife, Lori, says she feels police didn't do enough in the hours after her husband was hit to track down the driver. She says part of that is because there was confusion over whether he would die.

"My son and I found pieces of the truck at the scene that Monday – so 48 hours after the accident there was still evidence lying in the road. So I think things could have been done differently," she said.

Something similar happened in Schmidt's case. Police admitted they didn't collect all evidence at the scene where a driver hit him 11 days ago. They went back a few days later, picked it up, and were able to specifically identify the car they say hit Schmidt.

But that's not the case for Cooley. Police have only released a basic vehicle description through a witness account – an older model white Ford truck, possibly from the late 1990s. A witness said the driver was driving erratically before the crash.

Both of these recent cases happened on a weekend and involved some evidence not being collected right away. Police have said these cases are challenging to solve.

Cooley says part of his healing process was forgiving the driver who hit him. He expects to go home in a few weeks.

Lori has been by his side since the crash and is getting their house wheelchair ready.

"We have to have a 25-foot ramp, so we have to have two or three five-foot landings on that 25-foot ramp," she said.

Cooley is facing a mountain of medical bills. People can go to any U.S. Bank and donate in the name of "Mike Cooley" to help.

If you have any information about the case, police want to hear from you.

We started looking into this story after Cooley's family contacted us. If you have a story we should check out, send us an email at newstips@katu.com.