When Dr. Kyle Cooper was found facedown on the Sunset Drive near Panorama Point around 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, his adrenaline kicked into high gear. Cooper was found on the road by an off-duty nurse named Heather McVey, who helped turn the bloodied Cooper onto his back after a gruesome bicycle accident.
Cooper felt the blood pooling in his throat and asked the nurse to help him sit up. A retired firefighter brought Cooper a towel to put pressure on his face while they waited for an ambulance. Cooper said he knew the injuries were grisly when he saw McVey’s reaction when he lifted his face off the road.
Cooper’s face was mangled by the accident making it hard for him to speak. He pulled out his cellphone and used Google Translate to communicate with the nurse and emergency medical technicians. He communicated with the EMTs through Google Translate to route the ambulance to Loma Linda University Hospital due to the specialty care he needed for his shattered jawbone, lost teeth and his nose, which was partially detached from his face. He says he was shocked at how lucid he felt in the ambulance and even managed to take a selfie of his bloodied face.
Cooper, a doctor at Loma Linda Medical Center and Redlands Community Hospital, had left his shift at Redlands Community Hospital around 4 p.m. for an endurance ride around the Sunset Loop. He planned to return to the hospital to retrieve his things after the ride. The doctor is a semi-professional cyclist when he is not serving as the associate director of Interventional Radiology and residency program director of Interventional Radiology at Loma Linda University. He competed in this year’s Redlands Bicycle Classic.
“I’ve ridden that loop about 50 times,” said Cooper. “The last thing I remember is turning onto Sunset from Alta Vista.”
He says he cannot remember the two minutes between turning onto Sunset Drive and crashing. Cooper’s bicycle has a computer in it that tracks his rides. He said the computer shows an increased speed in the seconds leading up to his crash into a parked trailer. He believes that he was hit from behind by a vehicle.
Cooper is frustrated by the initial lack of police response. Redlands spokesman Carl Baker confirmed that the initial 911 call came in as a medical aid call, which is the reason the police were not notified. Police were not made aware of the accident until much later that day after the scene was cleaned up.
The Redlands Police Department is now investigating the accident. Cooper has expressed frustration on Facebook about the police response and the state of the investigation. He has taken it upon himself to get to the bottom of what happened.
He alleges that the RPD officer investigating his case has been dismissive about the accident being caused by a hit-and-run. Cooper says that he will not be able to recoup the costs of his extensive surgeries from insurance if it’s not determined to be a hit-and-run. Cooper has multiple surgeries ahead of him still.
He said in an ideal world the police would catch the person who committed the hit-and-run, but at this point he would just be relieved to have the accident acknowledged as a hit-and-run.
Cooper commended his team of doctors, who are also his colleagues, at Loma Linda University Hospital for the work they did to reconstruct his face and save his life. Cooper believes that he might not have survived if he hadn’t been a doctor. He was discharged from the hospital a week after the accident, but has a long road to recovery ahead of him.
“I owe the nurse who found me everything,” said Cooper.
If you have surveillance camera video from the area at the time of the accident, please contact Redlands police.