FROM FOR THE RECORD (Friday, June 27, 1997): Correction Errors in story: Cooper Jones, a bicyclist hit by a car, did not break his leg as reported in a Thursday story. In addition, he was treated at the scene by a doctor who inserted a breathing tube into the boy’s mouth. The story described the procedure incorrectly.
When he hopped on his bike, Dr. Sam Joseph thought he’d be testing his speed, not his surgical skills.
But four miles into the race, the Spokane respiratory physician suddenly found himself on his belly in the middle of the road, battling to save a 13-year-old boy’s life.
On a two-lane highway west of Cheney, Joseph saw the unconscious boy wedged beneath a Cadillac DeVille that had, minutes before, slammed into him. A man was struggling furiously to jack up the car and free the young bicyclist.
By all accounts, Cooper Jones was dead. He wasn’t breathing, had no pulse. But Joseph wouldn’t give up.
The physician cut a slit in the boy’s throat, slid in a breathing tube handed over by paramedics and helped bring him back to life.
Cooper was in critical condition with massive head injuries, a broken clavicle and leg at Deaconess Medical Center late Wednesday. A Washington State Patrol investigation into the accident continues.
About 6:50 p.m. Tuesday, Cooper was riding in the Baddlands Cycling Club time trial, headed west on state Highway 904 when he was hit from behind by the Cadillac, said WSP Sgt. Ken Lofquist.
The boy flew head-first into the car’s windshield. When driver Glena Ward braked, he tumbled off the hood, landing in front of the car.
Without his helmet, Cooper would have almost certainly died at the scene, troopers say.
Only the 65-year-old Ward and her husband witnessed the accident. During the time trial, bikers started in one-minute intervals, stringing them out about a mile apart on the flat, straight stretch of road.
Ward told troopers she didn’t see the boy until she hit him. Alcohol and excessive speed were not factors in the crash, Lofquist said.
Cooper survived the accident be cause of a twist of fate.
Joseph and other club members with medical training, including Spokane neurosurgeon Cindy Hahn and several Sacred Heart nurses, happened to be riding behind the boy.
“We were just lucky to have all of these people there at the same time,” said Alex Renner, vice president of the cycling club. “These people basically saved his life.
Renner said the club has been racing on that stretch of highway since 1989 and never had a single mishap.
“The time trial has got to be one of the safest races around,” he said.
On Wednesday, members of the cycling club had an 8x10 group photo made. They set it beside his hospital bed.
Cooper’s talent as a cyclist is widely known within the club.
“He was an up-and-comer,” Renner said. “One of our strong riders.”
While Cooper fights for his life, Joseph worries whether he and his fellow cyclists are safe on the road.
“This frightened the hell out of me,” he said. “I think this is a pure awful accident. Cars have to understand that bikes do share the road and that we have every right to share the road.
“Cars and bikes don’t mix. We always lose.”