OAKWOOD VILLAGE, Ohio (WJW) — A local firefighter was hit by an alleged drunk driver while riding his motorcycle and has lost feeling in his legs, according to police.
Police responded to a report that a motorcyclist had been struck by an SUV at the intersection of Interstate 271 North and Forbes road at about 11:30 p.m. on Friday, May 12.
There, they found 44-year-old Ghadi Cole of Macedonia, a captain in the Cleveland Division of Fire and also an Oakwood firefighter, laying in the road, face-down and bloodied, according to a police report.
“The rider of the motorcycle is down — face-down on the drive — he’s bleeding, moving, but bleeding from the face,” officer Richard Millard told a dispatcher, as heard on body-worn camera footage provided to FOX 8 News.
He was taken to a hospital. Officer Kristopher Knuckles in his Sunday, May 14, report noted Cole remained in the hospital with a skull fracture, and that he was unable to feel his legs.
The 23-year firefighter and paramedic remains hospitalized with bleeding on the brain and swelling of his spinal cord, according to a GoFundMe page set up to pay for his recovery. It had raised nearly $14,500 as of Tuesday.
“While his family remains hopeful for a full recovery, doctors are not certain that Ghadi will be able to regain the use of his legs,” an organizer wrote.
The driver of the SUV, Ali Akram, 52, of North Randall, told the officer he had been drinking that day. He appeared to fail the officer’s field sobriety tests or fail to follow the instructions. A search of his vehicle turned up a bottle of spirits on the driver’s side floorboard, as well as an empty beer bottle under the passenger seat.
He was arrested and booked into the Solon jail on suspicion of operating a vehicle while impaired. At the jail, a breath test showed his blood-alcohol content was 0.154% — nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08%.
Akram was arraigned Tuesday morning in Bedford Municipal Court on a felony count of aggravated vehicular assault and a misdemeanor count of open container in a motor vehicle. He waived his preliminary hearing. He was also scheduled to face citations for OVI, for having a blood-alcohol content over 0.08 and for following too closely.
His bond was initially set at $50,000 or 10% cash or surety. It was lowered to $5,000 or 10% cash or surety at his Tuesday arraignment.
Akram’s charges are now bound over to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.