An apparent road-rage beating in New Orleans left a San Diego man paralyzed and in need of a $20,000 air ambulance to get home.
Doug David, a La Jolla jazz lover who often made trips to the French Quarter, told police he was nearly struck by a small black car as he crossed a road in an adjacent neighborhood just before midnight on Oct. 15.
"He was crossing the street and someone ran the stop sign and almost hit him,” his niece Alicia Foulds told NBC 7, “and he threw a beer can at them and I'm assuming probably used some choice words."
The driver stormed out of the car and hit David in the face, New Orleans police said. The victim remembers nothing after the punch.
It took an officer about 40 minutes to arrive at the scene, which had been cleared by that point when an ambulance took David to the hospital. “With neither the victim nor witnesses on scene, the incident was marked up unfounded,” police said in a release.
That’s why it took officers 10 days to finally contact David in a New Orleans hospital after a call from family members.
The beating left David with spinal cord injuries that paralyzed him from the shoulders down. Foulds, a Rancho Cucamonga resident, flew to New Orleans to be with her uncle.
“My heart breaks for him,” said Foulds, “to know the kind of lifestyle he lived and to know that is forever changed.” She said he frequently cycles as part of his active, retired lifestyle.
Now, the family is trying to get David back to California. The feat requires a $20,000 chartered medical flight that is not covered by his insurance. “He essentially needs to fly in an ICU room,” Foulds said.
The family has started a fundraising page in an effort to raise money to get David home.
Meanwhile, New Orleans police are looking for the driver in the small black vehicle who is accused of second-degree battery. The suspect has been identified as Christopher S. Smith, 30, and his car has a Louisiana license plate of XQT199, officers said.