A former translator for the U.S. military in Afghanistan underwent his third surgery Tuesday, his coworkers said, following a brazen attack in Lincoln City last Tuesday night.
Mohammad Fawad Mohammadi, who goes by Fawad, was driving with his wife and young son when he was in a minor traffic incident in a Walgreens parking lot at about 11:45 p.m., according to Lincoln City Police.
After the incident, Mohammadi got out of his Toyota Prius, police said. But the other driver, Perry Nicolopoulos of Puyallup, Washington, allegedly reversed and accelerated his Honda Fit towards Mohammadi twice, hitting Mohammadi and badly damaging his leg.
"When I arrived I saw a man lying on the ground with a bloody mangled foot and paramedics treating him," a police officer wrote in a probable cause affidavit. "The vehicle had significant damage to the driver's side and a trail of debris to the east of the vehicle. A woman was holding her toddler and crying."
Mohammadi sustained extensive injuries, including a broken back — though his spine is OK —as well as injuries to his leg, according to police and a coworker. Until recently, doctors said they had a 5 percent chance of saving his leg, according a coworker OPB interviewed.
Nicolopoulos was arraigned March 8. He is suspected of driving under the influence, police said. His next court appearance is scheduled for Thursday in Lincoln County Circuit Court.
Nicolopoulos has been charged with numerous felonies including attempted murder, driving under the influence, recklessly endangering another person and assault.
"Our belief that this was an intentional act is what led us to put the type of felony charges on our arrest that we did," said Lt. Jerry Palmer, with the Lincoln City Police Department.
After allegedly hitting Mohammadi, Nicolopoulos fled the scene, Palmer said. Nicolopoulos was arrested about three miles outside of town.
He remains in jail and the toxicology evidence is still being analyzed, Palmer said.
Mohammadi was flown by helicopter to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland, where he remained in the intensive care unit Tuesday.
Police said Nicolopoulos' actions were intentional.
"It is very unusual to have a situation where an individual randomly — whether it was road rage, DUI, some other mental issues that may be going on — that causes them to purposely ram another person's vehicle. And then when that victim steps out of their vehicle and is completely vulnerable is attacked again by being struck with a vehicle," Palmer said. "That takes it to a-whole-nother level."
Police officers are still investigating, but said they haven't determined a motive. Palmer said there isn't evidence at this time that it was a hate crime.
Mohammadi is the assistant deli manager at Palisades, a grocery store in Lake Oswego. He was slated to take over as the manager of a prepared foods chef station at the grocery store.
Mohammadi is from Afghanistan and worked as a translator for the U.S. military, said Peter Sollom, manager of Palisades.
He moved to the United States about three years ago after he was sponsored by troops he worked with in Afghanistan, Sollom said. Mohammadi's fiancée joined him in the U.S. about six months later.
"They have a beautiful little boy," Sollom said.
His son, who was in the car at the time of the incident, was born in 2016.
"Right now, we're all just kind of lost wondering why this happened," Sollom said. "There's no understanding."
Mohammadi's coworkers have set up a Go Fund Me fundraiser to help pay for medical and other expenses.