Palisades Market employee continues recovery from attack
There's not much that can get Mohammed Fawad Mohammadi down — not even losing part of his right leg as the result of a gruesome attack he and his family endured in Lincoln City earlier this month.
"I'm a person who has no problem with anybody," Fawad said from his hospital bed at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. "Even the small problems, I'm always smiling."
Mohammadi was visiting the Oregon Coast with his wife and infant child March 6 when they were involved in a minor traffic accident while leaving the parking lot of a Walgreens on Highway 101 in Lincoln City.
Mohammadi and his wife had exited their vehicle to assess the damage and exchange insurance information when the other driver involved in the accident put his car in reverse and drove toward the couple. Mohammadi was able to push his wife to safety, but he was struck by the vehicle and pinned between the two cars.
Police said the assailant then pulled forward and, without warning, drove 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.
The Afghan immigrant and former U.S. military translator is an employee of Lake Oswego's Palisades Market, where he's known affectionately as the "Soup King." Following the attack, Mohammadi's coworkers sprang to action, setting up a GoFundMe account at bit.ly/FawadsFund to support him as he recovers from a crushed leg, broken hips, fractured spine and several contusions and lacerations.
As of March 27, the account had raised more than $100,000, exceeding its goal with contributions from nearly 1,800 people. An additional $10,000 has been raised through checkstand donations at Palisades Market, and Lake Oswego Rotary Club members added $800 more to the effort at their meeting on March 19.
After the attack Mohammadi was flown by Life Flight helicopter to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, where he spent several days in the Intensive Care Unit before moving to a regular hospital room.
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 now faces 12 felony counts and four misdemeanors, and is being held on $1 million bail until an April 30 court date.
Deputy District Attorney R. Lynn Howard filed documents in Lincoln County Circuit Court asserting Nicolopoulos was motivated by bias, known colloquially as a hate crime. The enhancements to Nicolopoulos' 16-count indictment filed last week would carry a harsher punishment should he be found guilty.
Meanwhile, Mohammadi has undergone several surgeries, including one in which doctors were forced to amputate his right leg about 6 inches below the knee.
Through it all, Mohammadi is still smiling.
"He's in great spirits," said Laurie Boss, a friend and mentor who works with Mohammadi at Palisades Market. "He's just such a positive guy. If you were going to find someone representative of the Muslim people, it would be him."
An incident that would have left many reeling, angry and resentful has proved quite the opposite for Mohammadi. He believes, despite this attack, that most people are generally good and kindhearted.
"I see the people around me in this city ... there are so many good people. It makes you forget what happened," Mohammadi said. "(This situation) is not how people react or how I've experienced people. I can't associate the rest of the world with one person trying to kill me."