On Monday, a retired United States Marine was involved in a minor traffic accident in Oregon. The Marine, Jason D. Cooper, 37, of Temecula, California, ran from the accident and was found two days later. Police followed his footprints in the snow for several hours on the day of the accident but were forced to wait until the following day to resume their search for the driver.
Mr. Cooper ended up in a remote wooded area after walking in the snow, sometimes barefoot, other times in only sandals, for two days. When the Oregon State Troopers found him, he was laying on tree branches, in an attempt to keep warm. Remarkably, he was not seriously injured from his extended stay in the cold dressed as if it was summer.
Cooper, a one-time Marine sniper, had been driving Monday when he collided with another car on Oregon Highway 138D. The driver of the other car was amazed to see Cooper running, in shorts and sandals, from the accident scene and into the snowy woods.
The troopers who were trailing Cooper became anxious when they learned Cooper suffers from PTSD and has had other encounters with police. One of the troopers was Sgt. Dave Randall, himself an ex-Marine. “I found out that he had panic attacks during stressful situations and sometimes just had to run away,” said Randall.
Randall, along with Trooper Don Frerichs of the Fish & Wildlife Division came back to the accident site on snowmobiles and began following Cooper’s snowy footprints for more than five miles.
When they caught up to the former Marine sniper it was apparent to them that he was suffering from hypothermia. Randall addressed him as Staff Seargent Cooper and asked how he was doing.
Randall recalls, “He asked how I knew he was a Marine and I said, ‘Hey, a Marine always knows a fellow Marine.’ After that, we were fast friends.”
Cooper confided Randall and Frerichs were told by Cooper that pain had caused him to remove his sandals when the straps began cutting his feet. He walked a few miles through deep snow in his bare feet. Finally the pain from the ice forced him to use the sandals again.
to the troopers that he was so cold he couldn’t stand. Randall asked if he was scared by being along, out in the woods for 2 days. Cooper responded, “Of what?”
After the troopers provided Cooper with clothing and food, they drove him back to the highway on their snowmobiles.
Randall said “The amazing thing is he will not have any long-lasting effects from the hypothermia or frostbite,”. “He’s a tough, tough guy, physically and mentally tough. The real deal.”
The story sheds light on the struggle many service members have with PTSD. And now that an increasing number of men and women are returning home from combat, an increasing amount of military families will become intimately aware of the long-lingering effects of PTSD.
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Originally reported by The Oregonian. http://www.oregonlive.com, and AP.