RUN DOWN AND LEFT FOR DEAD
By CRAIG McTEAR
THE throbbing pain in his right leg and his nagging limp constantly remind Ashley Cooper of his frightening ordeal almost a year ago.
On October 1, 2005, the senior constable was having his first day on the job with Coffs Harbour highway patrol when the unthinkable happened.
Ashley and Senior Constable Wally Brooks were doing radar checks on the Pacific Highway opposite the Bailey Avenue intersection at 8.30am when they detected a speeding motorcyclist.
He initially slowed when Ashley flagged him down but then he accelerated. He was travelling at an estimated 100km/hour when he rammed Ashley and fled south.
Ashley was flung to the ground, where agonising pain washed over him in waves.
He hoped he could get back up, but his leg was too badly injured for that.
"Wally asked me if I was okay, and I said 'I don't think so'," Ashley said.
"He asked 'Can you get off the road', and I said 'No'."
As bystanders and more police officers came to his aid, Ashley broke the bad news over the phone to his wife, Carlene.
The young dad was in hospital for a week following emergency surgery to insert two plates into his shattered leg. He spent the next six months recuperating at home.
"I didn't leave the house for three weeks. I was bed-bound," Ashley said.
"I had physiotherapy three times a week, as well as hydrotherapy."
Ashley was only well enough to return to work on restricted duties in April, and he's still not sure when he'll be able to resume full duties.
"That could be 12 months away," he said.
He is still unable to walk properly, and he's in constant pain. He's also seeing a counsellor.
"It's been a challenging thing to come to grips with the incident," he said.
"It's been frustrating in some aspects because you can't do everything you want to do, and there's no real time frame on my full recovery."
As the anniversary of his dreadful experience nears, Ashley is thankful he is still mobile.
"I can do things I didn't think I'd be able to do," he said.
"When it happened, I feared I wouldn't walk again. I thought I'd lost my foot."
n Police captured the bike rider, Queenslander 19-year-old Guy Adam Hall, in Armidale, several hours after he ran down Ashley Cooper, following high-speed chases through Coffs Harbour, Macksville and Port Macquarie.
In Armidale District Court in March, Hall was sentenced to five years and six months jail for maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on an officer and assaulting an officer in the execution of their duties.
His non-parole period is three years and six months. Hall was also disqualified from driving/ riding for five-and-a-half-years.