Family wants to find hit and run driver - so they can forgive him

PORTLAND, Ore. - A hit and run driver injured Mike Cooley so badly he can barely communicate.

Yet the one thing he wants to get across is that he forgives whoever hurt him.

Cooley is a victim of hit and run. He was riding his bicycle along Interstate Ave. in North Portland on June 15 when he was struck by a passing pickup. He's in critical conditions, and doctors don't know if he'll walk again.

So far, he can only communicate by opening his eyes and nodding. If he wants to communicate something more complicated than a simple yes or no, doctors or his family will run through the letters of the alphabet. When they hit the letter he wants, he opens his eyes, continuing the process until the word or sentence is spelled out.

On Thursday morning, he was doing lots of nodding, his wife said.

"I said, I know you and I know you would probably want to forgive the man that hit you," said Lori Cooley. "And he nodded his head vigorously and started to cry, and I said 'so you want me to let people know that he forgives them' and he said 'yes.'"

Lori Cooley joined one of his doctor's and Portland police for a press conference to ask for someone to come forward with information.

She said she's not looking for the chance to punish, but rather the chance to forgive.

"It's not surprising to me that he left, if he was intoxicated or something," she said. "But I think he still deserves to be forgiven because I just believe people need to be forgiven when they repent and do the right thing."

Doctors said it's likely Cooley will survive.

"Finding the person who hit him is not going to heal his bones any faster or heal his organs any faster or get him off the ventilator any faster," said Dr. Ameen Ramzy, Cooley's trauma surgeon. "But it may help with the entire situation.

"That person who did this is suffering in his own way."

Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information. Police are looking for a mid-1990s white Ford F-350, likely one that's lifted with a chrome step on the driver's side. There will probably be damage to the front of the passenger side.

"The driver here made two mistakes that night," said Portland Police Department spokesman Pete Simpson. "The first mistake was striking Mr. Cooley. The second mistake was leaving. You can't fix the first mistake - that's happened, the injuries are there - but the second mistake can be corrected by coming forward."

There is a fund set up to help the Cooley family. Donations can be made at local U.S. Bank locations.