Doug Terrien was going to die.
That’s what staff at Tacoma General Hospital told his family after he was hit by a truck while bicycling to Puyallup on June 6.
Two months later, Terrien is alive and well, with little visible sign of the hit-and-run wreck that left him comatose for several days.
Puyallup police have yet to find the driver who hit the 60-year-old along state Route 167, which is eating at him.
“I don’t want this to die here,” Terrien said. “I think this person should be held accountable.
“It’s created hell for me, but it’s also created hell for my family,” he added, choking up.
To say the longtime local and Lakes High School alumnus was an avid bicyclist is an understatement. He’d put 3,000 miles on his bike in 2016 alone.
So when a friend borrowed his SUV to pick up a boat in Gig Harbor, Terrien figured he’d ride across the Tacoma Narrows and then through Tacoma to get to Puyallup, where he was taking classes to become a real estate agent.
He made it through Fife and set off on North Levee Road, along the banks of the Puyallup River, but he didn’t feel safe riding on a road without a shoulder. He crossed the river at the 66th Avenue bridge, then set out on SR 167, with its 8-foot-wide shoulders.
But in front of the Northwest Motorsport dealership at 18th Street Northwest, the shoulder suddenly narrows to about 2 feet. That forced Terrien into 45 mph traffic.
That’s when he was struck by a tan truck towing a large, black trailer that was turning down 18th Street. The truck never stopped.
Terrien, who was wearing a helmet, suffered severe head trauma and was rushed to Tacoma General Hospital. He was comatose for days. He needed 33 stitches for the abrasions on his head and face, broke his jaw in two places, and broke six ribs and his pelvis, too.
Except for bits and pieces, Terrien doesn’t remember the next week. He’s suffering from post-traumatic stress and is undergoing cognitive therapy.
But from what his friends and family told him later, Terrien’s motivation was powerful: He wanted to spend time with his three sons and two granddaughters.
“‘I have two granddaughters. I have to go home,’” he said. “That’s all I would say for several days.”
Two months later, he’s made an impressive recovery. Terrien still has some fatigue and memory loss, and the lingering PTSD, but he says his body has a clean bill of health. And he’s thankful for the hundreds of people who reached out to him and his family in the wake of the collision.
“Everyone has said I’m a miracle, I have an angel,” Terrien said. “I don’t know, but I’m the luckiest man in the world for my recovery and my support. No doubt, I’m the luckiest man.”
When he was hit, Terrien had been preparing for a 500-mile trip throughout Western Washington, starting from Gig Harbor in early July, going down to Raymond, then returning via the Olympic Peninsula with a stop for some fresh Hood Canal oysters. Part of his rapid recovery, he says, was due to the fantastic shape he is in.
The crash claimed Terrien’s $6,000 carbon-fiber bike, which broke into pieces and might not be fixable.
“I love that bike,” Terrien said. “I love that bike.”
But much like he started right where he left off with his real estate agent classes, Terrien says he’s going to hop back into the saddle of a bicycle.
Terrien wants to turn his experience into a teachable moment, both for drivers to share the road and for bicyclists to wear their helmets. He said the share-the-road ethos for drivers and bicyclists has been diminished, and he wants drivers to remember that the road is there for everyone, including vulnerable bicyclists.
“I am going to be a huge advocate for share-the-road,” he said. “I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to do it. It’s a big deal for me.”
But first, he’s focused on trying to find the driver of the truck that hit him.
The extended-cab tan truck, which Puyallup police said may have had a partial license plate of 1158, was last seen 6 p.m. June 6 going south on 18th Street Northwest with its trailer.
“I wish the person was held accountable,” Terrien said. “I almost passed away. It was a hit and run. That person should be held accountable.
“I go through hell every day. I think he should go through a little hell.”
Anyone with information about the hit-and-run crash that put Doug Terrien into a coma is asked to call Puyallup police at 253-770-3343 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.