Afghan immigrant 'intentionally rammed'
A Beaverton man was severely injured in a hit-and-run traffic accident in Lincoln City last week, resulting in the filing of an attempted murder charge.
Mohammad Fawad Mohammadi, who emigrated to the United States from Afghanistan three years ago after serving as an interpreter for the U.S. military, was visiting the Oregon coast with his wife and infant child on Tuesday, March 6, when they were involved in a minor traffic accident in the parking lot of a Walgreens on Highway 101 in Lincoln City.
He and his wife had exited their vehicle to assess the damage and to exchange insurance information, police said, when the other driver involved in the accident put his car in reverse and backed toward the couple, whose infant son was still in the car.
Mohammadi was able to push his wife to safety, police said, but he was struck by the other driver's vehicle and pinned between the two cars. Police said the assailant then pulled forward and, without warning, backed toward Mohammadi again; this time, he was able to roll out of the way and call to his wife to get their baby out of the car and run.
The driver then sped away, police said, heading northbound on Highway 101.
Mohammadi was flown by helicopter to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, where he has remained in the Intensive Care Unit since March 6. He suffered a crushed leg, broken hips, fractured spine and numerous facial injuries in the accident, and underwent surgery on Friday afternoon in an attempt to save his leg.
That operation was deemed a success, according co-worker Stephanie Ballard Agramonte, although another surgery involving skin and muscle grafts is scheduled later this week to improve Mohammadi's chances of keeping the limb.
The suspected assailant, Perry G. Nicolopoulos, 68, of Puyallup, Wash., was arrested on Highway 101 north of Lincoln City a short time after the crash. He was initially taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence and transported to Lincoln County Jail, but he was later charged with attempted murder; assault in the first, second and third degree; reckless endangering; and failure to perform the duties of a driver.
He was being held Monday on $1 million bail.
The Lincoln City Police Department, Oregon State Police, Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, Newport Police Department and Toledo Police Department worked through the night to investigate the crash, and Lincoln City Police Lt. Jerry Palmer told the Lincoln City Newsguard that his department now believes Nicolopoulos intentionally rammed Mohammadi.
"We believe he intentionally rammed this vehicle," Palmer said. "Whether it was rage or being under the influence, we are still waiting for results of toxicology tests. But we believe something in this guy's life background or personality caused him to randomly strike the vehicle."
After learning of the incident, employees at the Palisades Market grocery store on McVey Avenue in Lake Oswego sprung into action, setting up a GoFundMe account to help pay for Mohammadi's medical expenses. Mohammadi is employed there.
He served as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Afghanistan for four years, often in the thick of battle.
Shortly after arriving in the United States, he began working at Palisades Market's sister store on Farmington Road in Aloha before transferring to the deli/catering department in Lake Oswego, according to Peter Sollom, the market's store director,
Mohammadi currently resides with his wife, Milab, and their 18-month-old son in Beaverton. His co-workers say he has been an extremely diligent and capable worker who is loved by all.
Ballard Agramonte told The Lake Oswego Review, a sister publication of The Times, that the initial reaction from Palisades Market staff was anger.
"The evening we got the details on what happened, so many people had the same reaction: 'People are horrible. Can you believe what people will do?'" she said.
But after seeing so many people — those who know Mohammadi as well as complete strangers — offer support both financially and spiritually, she says, the Palisades Market staff has regained its faith in humanity.
"Of course, everyone is still shocked because what happened is horrifying," Ballard Agramonte said. "There were more tears shed in this store than I've ever seen in any workplace. I've never seen this kind of emotional response, and it's because (Mohammadi) is such a sweet soul."
According to Ballard Agramonte, Boss has met with Mohammadi at Legacy Emanuel and reports that while he's in a lot of pain, he's smiling and laughing "like his sweet, old self," despite knowing the road to recovery will be a tough one.
Mohammadi's GoFundMe page can be found at http://bit.ly/FawadsFund. As of mid-day Monday, the effort had raised more than $11,500 of its $20,000 goal, with donations from 170 individuals.
"This kind of treatment does not represent how much the rest of America loves you," Jane Taylor wrote on the site. "We do. Heal well."