Papa John’s raises money for teens who died in Indiana police chase

MADISON, Ind. — Days after a police chase killed two teenagers, the Madison, Indiana community stepped up to help grieving families. 

Madison’s Papa John’s on Harry Nichols Drive held a fundraiser Tuesday to help the families of 18-year-old Tyler Cooley and 19-year-old Brooklyn James.

“We’re trying to help them take a little of the pain away – just on one side of it anyway,” area supervisor, Lance Lehmen said.

Cooley and James died in a crash Thursday, Jan. 9 that started as a police chase. Investigators said a Madison Police Officer tried to pull over 18-year-old Blake Coombs after witnessing him swerve on the road. Officials said the teen would not stop until he crashed into utility poles in rural Jefferson County, Indiana. Illinois State Police said the teen is still in the hospital.

Indiana police pursuit crash victims

Indiana police pursuit crash victims

Tyler Cooley and Brooklyn James


Papa John’s will split 20 percent of its Tuesday sales between the families of Cooley and James to help with funeral costs. 

General Manager Kim Wilder said it is a tragedy that hits close to home.

“We had a driver two years ago that got in a car accident and passed away and the community stepped up for us and helped us come in and put money in our buckets,” Wilder said. “This is a way to give back to the community for helping us when we needed help.”

Lehmen said their phones have been ringing off the hook with orders from factories, the hospital, and other local organizations.

“It says a lot about our community and that they care,” Lehmen said. “Our response has been overwhelming; we might’ve bit off a little more than we can chew.”

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