NEW ORLEANS -- A Treme mother of two is fighting for her life after an unusual hit-and-run accident on Sunday left her in critical condition in a medically induced coma.
Daphne Cola, 37, was leaving the Kermit's Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge at Claiborne Avenue and Columbus Street when she was struck by a speeding four-wheel all-terrain vehicle, according to police and several witnesses.
Even though the driver and a passenger were thrown from the ATV and appeared to suffer their own injuries, witnesses said they fled from the scene amid the chaos. The ATV was wrecked and abandoned at the scene.
NOPD detectives from the hit-and-run unit are now following leads to try and identify the driver. According to witnesses, several souped-up motorcycles, ATVs and dirt bikes were zooming up and down Claiborne before the accident, which took place at about 11:30 p.m.
Tiffany Cola was just a few seconds behind her older sister as they were leaving the popular nightclub, but that was all the time it took for the family's life to be shattered.
'I saw my sister face first on the ground and immediately I just started praying, because it didn't look good,' Tiffany Cola said. 'Both of her legs were broken. The bones were sticking out.'
The most serious injury was a serious head wound that left Daphne unconscious on the scene.
'They told me she was unresponsive. She didn't have a pulse and she wasn't breathing,' Tiffany Cola said.
Tiffany rode with her sister in the ambulance, where she apparently was resuscitated back to life. She is now listed in critical condition at University Hospital in a medically induced coma .
A witness said the images from the accident have left him unable to sleep at night.
'I thought she died. She looked dead,' said the man, who requested anonymity. 'It kinda messed my world up. Messed up my life, really. For somebody to do something like that and keep going, that's a hurting feeling.'
Daphne's family is now keeping an around-the-clock vigil at the hospital, praying for her recovery. The family has not told her two children, 12- and 5-year-old boys, the full extent of their mother's injuries.
Daphne, who holds an MBA degree from the University of New Orleans, has been working as a business and financial consultant.
Tiffany Cola made a plea for the driver to surrender to police.
'My sister's hurt badly. I forgive you for hitting her, but the least you can do for me and my family is turn yourself in.'
Anyone with information about the accident is urged to call Detective David Abbott of the Hit-and-Run Unit at 504-658-6210, or Crimestoppers at 822-1111.