OGDEN (News4Utah) – A Tremonton family is asking the public for help in finding the driver that hit their father as he was walking along a highway Friday morning.
Utah Highway Patrol said Joe Harper was hit while walking alongside the highway on SR-30 near mile marker 94. They received a call around 5:15 a.m. from a passerby who found him on the side of the road with critical injuries, but they are unsure exactly what time he was hit.
Harper’s family said they believe he was walking along the highway to find help since he left his cell phone at home.
Troopers said Harper was wearing dark clothing and that stretch of highway along SR 30 is very dark and does not have a lot of traffic, especially during that time of day. It is also possible he was hit by a semi or large truck that is not aware they hit anyone.
“It’s also possible the driver hit him and then was scared they would be in trouble,” said Katie Harper-Bentley, Joe’s daughter.
Harper has undergone multiple surgeries since Friday at the McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden. Harper’s family received some good news for the first time Monday morning when nurses said he responded when asked to move his fingers and toes. However, doctors say he is still in critical condition.
“His job right now is to fight,” said Nikie, Joe Harper’s wife. “He’s the strongest man alive, he cannot die. He’s the bear fighter, he’s superman.”
His wife of 41 years said he is well-loved by the community in Box Elder County for his willingness to help others.
“Joe is the face of Bear River High. He has been for 17 years. If anybody needs something at Bear River High School, they go find Joe,” said Nikie.
Nikie said her family just wants to know the timeline of what happened, so they could piece together how long he might have been laying on the road.
“He was cold to the touch when someone found him,” said Nikie. “But he had enough foresight to tell the person who found him that he had been hit.”
His family wants the driver to know that if they come forward, they don’t plan on pressing charges.
“In our heart, there is no anger towards the person that hit him. We just want a timeline,” said Nikie Harper, Joe’s wife. “If you knew Joe, he’s forgiven you from the moment of impact.”
The family has set up an account at Wells Fargo under the name of “Joe and Nikie Harper” for anyone wishing to help with mounting medical expenses.
If anyone has any information about either of the incidents involving Joe Harper, you are asked to call UHP dispatch at 801-88-3800 or Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office at 435-734-3800.