EUGENE, Ore. — The family of a Lane County sheriff’s deputy and his wife seriously injured in a hit-and-run in Mexico are speaking out about the accident.
We spoke exclusively with the family of Drew and Michelle Wattier. They shared their grief about the accident, their hope for recovery, along with the frustrations of having to deal with an investigation in Mexico.
It’s a true love story. Lane County sheriff’s deputy Drew Wattier and his wife Michelle have been in love for 25 years. Family and friends say they are the type of people you meet and fast friendships are formed. To Drew’s sister, Nicole Garrett, he’s been like a father.
“You know. It’s tough. It’s been tough. My brother–he is the rock. He is the rock of our family, especially since my dad has been gone he’s very strong,” Garrett said.
And it just might be that strength that’s helping him get through this tragic time. About a month ago Drew and Michelle were leaving their resort in Cabo, Mexico when they were hit by a car. That driver left the scene.
“The reason why they are still with us today is because miraculously there was a doctor that happened to be in the neighborhood. He was driving and happened to have tubes in his car, and when he arrived to the site he started on my brother,” Garrett said.
A team of three doctors worked on them in the street and then they were taken to a Mexican hospital. For family back home in the United States, it meant immediately finding ways to be by their sides.
“They made it through that night, and they made it through the next, and they made it through the next,” said Mike Brye, Michelle’s brother.
Michelle’s brother Mike from Eugene spoke to us by phone because to this day he is still by her side in a San Diego hospital.
“My sister, also a very easy girl to like, a hometown girl, very athletic, very kind,” Brye said.
Michelle is out of her coma but still has a long road of recovery ahead. She’s had a number of surgeries and suffers from some short-term memory loss.
“With all these surgeries, she is in a lot of pain,” Brye said.
Her love Drew is still in a coma.
“Looking at him, he looks perfect. His torso and body are in great shape. He’s definitely losing muscle, and he took a big hit to the legs,” Garrett said.
And that’s why Nicole and her husband Scott decided to pack up their life in L.A. and move to Portland to be near Drew, who was moved to a long-term care facility.
“He has rooted me on all these years, so it’s my turn,” Garrett said.
“It’s not surprising because I know the type of people that Andy and Michelle are. It’s awesome and I think it’s the one good thing that has come out of this whole situation,” Garrett said.
“I think it’s a testimony to them that their friends have risen to this level,” Brye said.
Focused on healing, there’s also an investigation that for some grows more frustrating by the day.
“I can’t imagine leaving someone’s family in the middle of the road and then driving home,” Brye said.
And here’s an even more surprising revelation.
“We were told by the U.S. Consulates Office that they were told there is a possibility that hit and run in an urban area is legal, but they had not heard that in an official capacity,” Brye said.
The driver has not been arrested and family says it could use a different type of support.
“I was hoping that if people wrote letters to Senator Wyden and Merkley and told them that they cared about this too might add to their incentive,” Brye said.
“My brother deals with criminals on a daily basis and it would be horribly ironic for him to wake up and find out that nothing has been done to the person who has done this to him and his wife. It’s just upsetting,” Garrett said.
The family is hopeful Michelle will be moved to Portland in a couple of weeks where family says they have a love story to continue.
We spoke with a representative for Solmar Resort where the driver in this case is allegedly still employed. That representative confirmed that information for us and went on to say they were told by the investigating authorities there that there was not a crime. However, the family says a 90-page police report proves otherwise.