Hit-and-run victim wants public help to forgive driver

TACOMA, Wash. -- To grasp the peace and dignity of Gregory Adams requires one to ask the unimaginable: What would you want to say to the hit-and-run driver who nearly killed you?

"Speaking directly to him, I'm gonna say 'God bless you'," Adams says.

On September 3, Adams was waiting for the light to turn "walk" to cross a south Tacoma crosswalk. He started walking, and that was the last thing he remembers.

The man who found him lying in the road, 50 feet from the impact, thought he was dead.

When Adams woke in the hospital, he had two broken legs, a shattered shoulder, kidney and stomach damage, severe tailbone bruising, broken ribs and other internal injuries.

"Ugh! Ugh!" he muffles as he rises from his wheelchair into a walker, with the help of two rehabilitation specialists at Fir Lane Center in Shelton.

He's quick with a smile and a joke, he toys playfully with his specialists. He admits he's, well, "bubbly." But his positive attitude doesn't stop the pain.

"Oh man," he admits with a smile during an interview, "it's unimaginable pain."

Yet, through it all, he feels blessed.

"I don't know the reason the person kept going."

I point out, "There is no good reason."

"But it's nothing that can't be forgiven," he declares.

Horns honk and traffic roars over the crosswalk where it happened near South 86th and Hosmer Street in south Tacoma. He was walking back from buying Peanut M&Ms at a Shell station across the street from his White Roof Inn.

Police believe a large white SUV hit him before speeding off. Adams was told police initially wrote it down as a car accident. He fears police never got surveillance video. Several businesses have security cameras pointing in the general direction of the crosswalk.

So now he's asking for the public's help - not to punish the driver. Incredibly, quite the opposite: to forgive him.

"Face to face. And ask him a couple questions," says Adams.

"Like what?" I ask.

"Um, what was your life like? How has your life been since September 8th? This is what my life has been like," he says.

He points to his wheelchair and the braces on his legs.

"You want that person to know?"

"Yea, I want them to know," he says.

And he doesn't want this driver to hit anyone else.

Not only is he severely injured but, since he's been living in a rehab center, Adams has lost his fledgling lawn care business and he says his truck and equipment were stolen. He says someone even broke into his apartment and stole his clothes. He has no health insurance. Adversity is nothing new to him.

Adams grew up on the tough streets of East St. Louis.

"I've been through a lot in my life. Things haven't always been peaches and cream," he says. "I did 17 years in prison. From the ages of 17 until I was 34."

"For what?" I ask.

"I had an attempted murder and armed robbery." He pauses. "So that's why I'm willing to forgive because I've done a few things in my past."

Adams hopes some of his medical bills can be waived. But he's been told the invoices - in the tens of thousands of dollars - are coming. Rather than ask for a handout, Adams says he's going to raise money in a walkathon from Seattle to Olympia that he wants to call "The Road to Recovery." First, though, he has to learn how to walk again.

"Do you think you've got something to do on this planet?" I ask.

"God is not finished with me," he smiles. "That's why I'm sitting here talking to you. He is not finished with me."

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