He was run down by a truck, had his wheelchair crushed beyond repair and was left helpless and in pain in the middle of a dark street.
But 43-year-old Robert Quast has discovered just how nice people can be.
Since news of his hit-and-run accident was reported Thursday, Quast has been inundated with offers of money, new wheelchairs and support.
“It’s surprising to me,” Quast said from his Coeur d’Alene home where he is recuperating from a fractured ankle. “I really appreciate what was done by everyone. I thank them all.”
Said Quast’s mother, Gloria Jellesed: “It goes to show there’s good and bad in everything.”
Quast suffers from cerebral palsy and depends on an electric scooter-type wheelchair to get around.
He was heading west on Sherman Avenue at about 11 p.m. Tuesday when a red Bronco or Blazer-type vehicle pulled out of the parking lot at Henry’s Restaurant and smashed into him.
He was thrown to the ground. The truck dragged his wheelchair forabout 200 yards, leaving pieces of it scattering in the roadway.
“I thought the person would stop but they never did,” Quast said.
Radio disc jockeys Jeff Connor and Darren Johnson of KEZE Rock 106 in Spokane interviewed Quast on their Thursday morning show.
“The story intrigued us,” Connor said. “I don’t know what it was, if it was the power of his voice. But it struck a real nerve.”
The station’s telephones began ringing off the hook with offers of help from as far away as Canada, Connor said.
By about 10:30 a.m. the duo had raised more than $2,300 for Quast.
Several medical supply companies called offering to sell Quast a wheelchair at cost.
Russell Stippel of Spokane called The Spokesman-Review offering to give Quast an electric wheelchair he no longer uses.
Stippel, who has multiple sclerosis, knows how important it can be.
“As far as I’m concerned, for me it’s the difference between being able to get out and not being able to get out,” Stippel said. “I’ve been where he is.”
Connor said he priced electric scooter-type wheelchairs and found that they can cost up to $8,000. He and his radio partner will continue collecting money for the next several days.
After their show, the radio jockeys visited Quast, showering him with T-shirts and compact discs.
“I’m thinking you should get something turbo powered,” Connor joked.
Tom Robb, owner of the Iron Horse Restaurant where Quast works, also is accepting donations. He will help Quast sort through the various wheelchair offers.
“He’s an exceptional guy,” Robb said. “I hope the person who did this is going to be man or woman enough to decide this is not something they want to live with.”
Police have not yet located the suspect. Anyone who might have seen the incident or have information about it should call Coeur d’Alene Police at 769-2320.
MEMO: This sidebar ran with story: WANT TO HELP? Donations can be made to Robert Quast at KEZE E. 1601 57th in Spokane or the Iron Horse Restaurant, 407 Sherman Ave. in Coeur d’Alene.