OREGON CITY, Ore. (KOIN) — An Oregon City 7th-grader is recovering after his bicycle helmet saved his life when he was hit by a driver police said was using her cell phone.
And the Oregon City police were so impressed with his resilience they got together to put a smile on his face — and a new bike.
The Friday afternoon crash at the intersection of Pearl Street and Molalla Avenue fractured Aidann Popovic’s hip and ankle. He just recently began biking home from school and his friends teased him for wearing a helmet.
But he’s so glad he had it on when he was hit.
“He was riding home from school. It was kind of his first week. We were testing it out for him to bike home from school,” Savannah said.
Aidann, 12, said he waited for the walk signal and was crossing the street, “then trying to swerve out of the way when she comes around the corner. And obviously I failed since I got hit.”
He remembers being on the hood for a few seconds “before being launched off.”
Aidann said some days his injuries hurt a little and some days they hurt a lot.
His mom, Savannah, said she saw the surveillance video from a nearby business and it looks to her as if the driver was texting.
After she saw the video, she said it took her “a few minutes to compose myself seeing your child roll up on the hood of a car like that and fly everywhere.”
Police are not releasing the video during the ongoing investigation. Authorities said the driver was “on her phone,” but couldn’t say exactly what function of the phone she was using.
The driver was cited and has an upcoming court date.
Savannah Popovic said she’s just grateful it wasn’t any worse.
“Something as trivial as you think is texting could have taken his life and it wasn’t involving him. He was just coming home from school,” she told KOIN 6 News. “I didn’t know that could have been his last day.”
Aidann saved up his Christmas and birthday money and bought the bike from Goodwill.
“He and his stepdad put the repairs together to get it up and running,” she said.
But Tuesday, the Oregon City police showed up at his home with a big surprise — a new bike, a new helmet, lights for the bike and a pump.
When the Oregon City officers showed up with his new bike, “we thought Officer Lemons was just coming,” Aidann said. “Then I count one squad car, 2 squad cars, 3 squad cars, wait, a 4th one!”
The Popovic family didn’t expect anything and for the police “to do that shows how much Oregon City, the police department, is invested in the community and its members and taking care of us.”
“Officer Lemons did the shopping and picked everything out. Our original plan was just to fix his bike. However, Officer Lemons realized the bike was beyond repair,” OCPD Sgt. Pat Lynch told KOIN 6 News.
The bike was paid for through the Public Safety Chaplains Community Assistance Fund, which gets its money in anonymous donations from the community.
Aidann “is one tough kid. He is also very polite and articulate,” Sgt. Lynch said.
“Officer Lemons, a father of two, was very impressed with this young man and his resilience.”
This situation would have been drastically different, had he not been wearing his helmet.
The Popovic family said it’s amazing and they are so grateful.
Just a few months ago, a woman was hit and killed at the same intersection where Aidann was hit. Josefina Rojas was walking across the street when she was hit by a pickup truck and died at the scene.
Savannah said she hopes sharing their story will serve as a reminder for everyone to be careful.
“I’m hoping that my son experiencing this and people in the amazing community of Oregon City will understand that you can’t text and drive,” she said. “There’s a reason for this and it hit close to home for me.”
She also said there’s a message for young bike riders.
“He’s alive,” she said, “so this is his chance to say, ‘Hey, guys, I’m your peer. Wear your helmet. Wear it.”