Nearly two years after his parents started planning his funeral, an innocent bystander shot in a shocking crime spree continues to defy the odds of his prognosis.
It was March 2018 when Edmonton police started tracking five suspects following a home invasion at an apartment near 106 Avenue and 123 Street. There, investigators said two men were kidnapped at gunpoint over drugs.
They drove away in two stolen vehicles, eventually meeting at Manning Drive and 18 Street. That’s where one of the offenders shot an innocent driver, Herman Koo, in the head as he sat in traffic waiting to turn left.
“I was coming home from the gym, Goodlife, and I get shot… in the forehead. The bullet is still in there,” Herman explained.
He doesn’t remember the night itself but was told by police and his parents what happened.
“It was about 4 a.m. in the morning when someone knocked on the door. I was surprised,” Herman’s father, Simon Koo, explained.
“Then two police officers told us they don’t think he’s going to make it.”
The police rushed the Koos to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, where they found their son hooked up to all kinds of machines, with a bullet hole in his forehead.
There, doctors again warned that Herman wasn’t likely to survive. His parents started planning his funeral. But Herman held on.
“He was in a coma for 10 days with full life support. We were there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I’m glad he finally woke up,” Simon said.
When he regained consciousness though, Herman had forgotten how to speak and how to walk.
“It’s scary, to say the least,” he said.
When he was released from the intensive care unit, he’d already beaten the odds simply by surviving. But the doctors painted a bleak picture of Herman’s future.
“He thought he was never going to make it to a real life and he was going to be in a wheelchair. The doctor told us straight. He won’t be talking again, he won’t be able to eat again,” Simon recalled, dabbing away tears.
But Herman is a glass half full type of person. He was determined to do what everyone said he couldn’t: regain his independence.
“I learned to slowly walk again. I learned to talk again,” he said.
In the fall of 2019, he even got back behind the wheel of a car. His next goal is to return to his job as a pipeline control operator.
“He came a long way. He came a long, long way. I’m so proud of my son,” Simon said.
Police eventually used their helicopter to track down the stolen vehicles and apprehended five suspects. Three were minors and two were adult men.
Cashton L’Hirondelle was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in jail for kidnapping with a firearm, robbery with a firearm and discharging a firearm with intent.
Patrick Boyd was sentenced to a little more than five years for kidnapping with a firearm and robbery with a firearm.