JOHN DAY – Friends and neighbors are stepping up to help Jimmy Cook, a 2009 Grant Union High School graduate who was injured in a vehicle crash Feb. 7 near Hermiston.

The impact shattered all of the ribs on his left side, and surgeons had to remove the ribs over his heart to prevent puncture damage. He also has a bruised lung and broken bones in his wrist and forearm. He’s recovering at his family’s home in John Day.

“I’m just glad he’s alive,” said his mom Cammi Copenhaver of John Day. “It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.”

She said her No. 1 concern right now is to help her son as he recovers, but another worry is how to pay for medical costs – her son is uninsured.

His medical transport alone has a price tag of $20,000, she said, and his hospital stay and future surgeries will add up.

An account has been set up in Cook’s name at Old West Federal Credit Union to help with medical expenses.

Cook, 22, said before the crash he’d been with his two friends MacKenzie Dyer, 20, and Kortlan Lucas, 21, at Warehouse Beach Recreation Area, a popular picnicking spot.

The trio had been visiting and playing guitar, but minutes after they left, tragedy struck.

They were in a 1989 Dodge pickup driven by Dyer that collided with a 1999 Kenworth truck pulling a loaded flatbed trailer as she pulled out to make a left turn. The crash impacted the left front side of the pickup and the three in the pickup were thrown from the vehicle.

“At the bottom of the hill, life changed so fast,” Cook said. “The first thing that came to my mind – I wanted to know how my friends were.”

After an ambulance ride to the Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston, Cook was flown to Kadlec Medical Center in Richland, Wash. He was released three days later.

“It was by the grace of God and 20 pillows that we got home,” Copenhaver said.

Cook is able to visit with friends and well-wishers, although he is in extreme pain.

He’s scheduled for a follow-up doctor visit in a couple weeks to remove pins from his left arm, and he’ll eventually have a metal plate placed in his chest to protect his heart, Copenhaver said.

When asked what’s sustaining him, Cook said “The love from my family, being here, and support from everybody.”

His mom said her family has been caring through the ordeal.

“My husband Bill has been a major rock,” she said, and her children have jumped in to assist. “Robby, Billy, Brett and Andrew have been amazing – anything that needs to be done, they help.”

Family friend Miranda Goit is spearheading a spaghetti feed and silent auction to benefit Cook at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at the Mt. Vernon Community Hall.

Goit said she’s already received a few auction items; Russell’s Custom Meats is giving the meat for the spaghetti, and the Prairie City Food Bank is donating noodles and green beans.

Anyone who would like to volunteer or donate an auction item can call her at 541-620-2560.

Heather Rookstool is heading up a collection drive with donation jars set up in the community.

“One of the good things about living in a small community – you know you’re loved,” Copenhaver said. “We appreciate all the prayers.”

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