‘He wants to go home’: Northeast Ohio firefighter badly hurt in crash works to recover

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 2:53 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A Northeast Ohio firefighter is recovering at Metro Health Rehabilitation Institute after police say he was hit by drunk driver on May 12 in Oakwood Village.

Everyday, Ghadi Cole, 44, has speech, physical and occupational therapy.

“Therapy is grueling, it’s hard, it’s hard to watch,” said his mother Claudette Cole. “He doesn’t even want to come outside because it reminds him of what he could do, he would be doing.”

Ghadi Cole was riding his motorcycle the night of the crash, sitting at red light at Forbes and Fair Oaks Road.

Police say 52-year-old Ali Akram, who was drunk, smacked into Cole’s motorcycle.

He is charged with two counts of aggravated vehicular assault and two counts of OVI.

Ghadi Cole had 40 staples in his head, which have all since been removed.

He has a damaged spinal cord and double vision in his right eye.

“He’s concerned about it because he wants to go home, but he doesn’t want to go home with double vision,” said Claudette Cole.

Claudette Cole says her son is emotionally fragile.

A family, friend or another firefighter is always at his bedside 24/7 for comfort.

“We try to keep his spirits up so he has the energy to fight,” said Claudette Cole.

He hasn’t seen his 12-year-old daughter since the crash.

“He’s kind of not wanting her to be frightened by his appearance,” said Claudette Cole.

Ghadi Cole has been with Cleveland Fire for more than two decades and Oakwood Fire for 19 years part-time.

Ghadi Cole’s coworkers are planning to prep his house.

“They’re talking about looking at a ramp to get into the house and what they need to do in the house to make it ready for him,” said Claudette Cole.

He is adjusting to life in a wheelchair, but his mother believes he will walk again.

“I have to believe that. Because if you won’t believe, it won’t happen,” said Claudette Cole.

Ghadi Cole wants to come home on June 30, his 45th birthday.

However, doctors believe he will be ready to leave July 6.