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Wounded vet was driver in fatal crash

A wounded Afghanistan war veteran whom the community rallied behind when he returned home two years ago has been identified as the driver in a fatal crash with a bicyclist last week.

Cody James Smith, 23, of the first block of Upper Applegate Road, was attempting to make a right turn into a business on South Riverside Avenue Friday afternoon when 66-year-old Gary James Tuer struck the rear quarter panel of his 2012 Chevrolet pickup.

Tuer, of Medford, fell to the ground and hit his head on the pavement, knocking himself unconscious and causing severe injury, police said. He was not wearing a helmet.

He was transported to Rogue Regional Medical Center and died about an hour later, police said.

An autopsy for Tuer is scheduled for today. The case will then be referred to the Jackson County District Attorney's Office for possible charges.

"A man lost his life, and everything needs to be closely considered," said Lt. Mike Budreau of Medford police.

Budreau said no citations have been issued. There is no evidence Smith was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash. Budreau said Riverside Avenue's three traffic lanes, multiple driveways and 30 mph speed limit make it a dangerous route for bicyclists.

"There's always going to be an increased risk," Budreau said. "Bicyclists need to be particularly cautious."

Smith is a 2009 graduate of South Medford High School, where he was an all-conference guard on the football team. He served in the U.S. Army and was shot on Feb. 17, 2011, in Afghanistan. The injury initially paralyzed him, but he has since regained the ability to walk. Community volunteers gave more than $100,000 worth of time and materials to create accessible living quarters in his childhood home in Ruch to help him work on his recovery.

Attempts to reach Smith by phone Monday were not successful.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.