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Mike Perlstein / Eyewitness News
Email: mperlstein@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mikeperlstein

Dozens of family and friends of Daphne Cola gathered at Kermit's Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge on Friday to pray for a miracle.

Cola, a 37-year-old mother of two, remains in a coma at University Hospital after being struck by a four-wheel ATV Sunday night. Cola is in critical condition after breaking both of her legs and suffering a massive head injury.

Loved ones assembled at the club one of Cola's favorite hangouts to offer their support and urge the driver of the wrecked ATV to surrender to authorities. It is illegal to drive off-road vehicles on city streets.

The NOPD's hit-and-run unit is pursuing leads to identify the driver in the unusual accident, which place in front of the club on North Claiborne Avenue at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday.

Detectives on Friday released a videotape of the accident that shows the ATV flipping several times in the air, catapulting the male driver and a female passenger from the vehicle. The driver briefly checks on Cola and his passenger before fleeing the scene on foot.

'It's an accident. Accidents happen. But what kind of heartless person could leave her there?' asked Cola's mother Diane Cola. 'It will be a horrible loss to this community and to this world if she doesn't survive this.'

Cola continues fighting for her life at University Hospital. Her room in the intensive care unit is filled with balloons and get well cards. Propped in her left hand is a rosary and prayer book opened to a passage on healing.

When it didn't look like Cola would survive the night Thursday, her family called her two sons ages 5 and 12 and let them speak to their mother on the telephone. She seemed to rally after hearing their voices.



'We have to believe in miracles,' said her sister Tiffany Cola.

The accident has stunned family, friends and co-workers. Cola, who holds an MBA degree from the University of New Orleans, has been working as a business and financial consultant.

Cola's loved ones have been keeping an around-the-clock vigil at the hospital, taking only a short break Friday at noon for the prayer circle in the grassy yard of the lounge.

'This is one of her favorite spots,' her mother said. 'She says she can commune with God out here.'

One of Cola's close friends, Jade Fleury, said Cola would appreciate the outpouring of support at the event, which included club regulars and of dozens of members of the Treme community where Cola grew up.

'Just to see that everyone's out today supporting her, it means everything to us because that's what she needs right now,' Fleury said. 'Love, prayers and support from everyone.'

Cola's younger sister, professional entertainer Vegas Cola, led the group in song. Pastor Ronnie London of St. Mark Baptist Church offered a prayer.

'It's because of love, the reason why we're here today,' London prayed. 'And because of that love, I believe that God will raise her up, because he has done it before.'

Anyone with information about the identities of the driver and passenger is
asked to call Detective David Abbott at 658-6210, or Crimestoppers at 822-1111.
Police believe the female passenger was injured in the accident.

To help the family defray medical costs, a fund has been set up for Cola at Capital One Bank. Anyone wishing to participate can do so at any Capital One branch and contribute to the Daphne Cola Fund.

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