PORTLAND, Ore. – Henry Schmidt got his sunglasses, T-shirt and faith in humanity back on Sunday.
All three were fully intact, thanks to the two men who rescued him after he was struck by a hit and run driver while bicycling home from work just before 1 a.m. Friday morning.
Aaron Oosterhart and Jordan Sweet didn’t know each other, but they were on the same bus when the driver spotted a bike and pulled over.
Oosterhart spotted Schmidt in the bike lane, his head inches from the main lane of traffic. Schmidt was conscious, so the other two worked on keeping him calm and stable while they called 911.
Not that Schmidt would know. When KATU introduced the three on Sunday afternoon at OHSU, he told his rescuers he doesn’t remember the ordeal.
“You were alert and in a lot of pain, so it doesn’t surprise me one bit,” Oosterhart said.
Raw Video: Schmidt Thanks His Rescuers
Schmidt was pushing his bike south on SW Barbur Blvd. about 100 yards north of the SW Capitol Highway/Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway turnoff at about 1 a.m. Friday morning.
His tire had gone flat on the way home from his job at Pok-Pok, and nobody was available to come pick him up.
Along came a TriMet bus.
“The bus driver all of a sudden said “what the heck” and started pouring on the breaks,” Oosterhart said. “I look out the front window and there’s a crumpled bike in the middle of the road.
“I catch, off to the side of the bus, something moving in the bike lane. There was some blood on his arms and on the side of his face. His lower left leg was distorted and obviously very broken. It looked like it was a compound fracture.”
Oosterhart called 911. Sweet grabbed Schmidt’s phone and dialed the contact marked “Dad.”
“It felt good,” Sweet said. “It was a relief to know that - especially to know that them being from LA - they would have never known.”
Schmidt, a Lewis and Clark student who is scheduled to begin his senior year as a double major in math and physics, is out of intensive care but in pretty bad shape. He was wearing a helmet, but his leg is broken in several places, his spleen was lacerated and he suffered three minor spine fractures and a mild concussion
Still, he said he’s not mad at the driver, whom police are still looking for.
“I find it difficult to be angry,” he said. If anybody were in my position and were very angry, I would give them all of that benefit of that doubt.
“That being said, personally it’s not doing me any good to be mad about it and just sit here and stew in not only pain but anger. It really saddens me on more of a humanity level just to know that people are so not accountable for their actions. That terrifies me to be honest.”
Much of that abated Sunday when he met Oosterhart and Sweet. Oosterhart even went back out to the site of the accident and spent 45 minutes rooting out Schmidt’s sunglasses and shirt.
When he showed up at the hospital Sunday, the sunglasses were in one piece, and the shirt was clean, pressed and folded.
“I am near tears,” Schmidt said. “These guys saved my life, so …. thank you guys.
“As scared as I am that there are people out there who would do what they did to me, I’m also just so reassured now that I know there are people like you who would stop.”
Other evidence found at scene
We went back out to the scene of the crash and found a pretty distinguishable car part. We took the new evidence to Portland police.
A police spokesman explained that the investigation, including evidence collecting, hadn’t begun yet. The investigation – should Schmidt’s injuries been more severe and life-threatening – would have started immediately.
“We don’t know a lot of time what is evidence. What isn’t at a scene,” said Portland Police Sgt. Pete Simpson. “We should be erring on the side of caution. In this case there was things left at the scene that should have been collected.”
We went back to the scene on Monday and the entire area had been cleaned up. A lot of glass and plastic, including that car piece, was gone.
Investigators will try to determine if the debris is from the car that hit Schmidt.
"This is the type of case where someone needs to come forward," Simpson said. "There will be someone in the community who knows something."