Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Leslie Cochran In Critical Condition

Austin's thong-wearing homeless icon found with possible head injury last week.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Albert "Leslie" Cochran — Austin's homeless, thong-clad celebrity — remains in a semi-vegetative state at University Medical Center Brackenridge after he was found unconscious on a sidewalk by a taxi driver Oct. 3, according to a public health official with knowledge of the incident.

The official said that Cochran's injuries are life-threatening and that if he survives, he may experience "life-altering effects," including remaining in a vegetative state.

"He's very, very sick," the official said.

The taxi driver found Cochran near Oltorf Street and Interstate 35 at 1 a.m. and called police and Emergency Medical Services, said the official, who did not want to be named because the matter concerns confidential patient information.

When EMS arrived, Cochran, 58, had no outward signs of trauma, and all indications pointed to a closed head injury, the official said. Cochran was barely responsive, was not breathing well on his own and was considered a "critical trauma injury," the official said.

University Medical Center said it could not confirm that Cochran was there.

A hospital spokeswoman said a patient's information may not be available for different reasons, saying it is possible a family member requested that the information not be released.

Cochran has established himself as an Austin fixture, known for his skimpy outfits, cross-dressing and unsuccessful mayoral campaigns. He typically can be seen downtown clad in thongs, tiaras, boas and high heels.

He appeared in a local ad for a pager business during the 2001 Super Bowl wearing a pink bikini and is featured in refrigerator magnets that can be bought in stores around the city and from which he has received 20 percent of the profit.

Through the years, he has been arrested by Austin police on various counts of public intoxication, urination and defecation in the street, public camping and harassment.

Alan Graham, president of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, said he has known Cochran for years, and from conversations with him in the past, he knew Cochran suffered hardships living on the streets, despite his high profile and playful nature.

"It doesn't surprise me when people who live on the streets eventually end up in hospitals," Graham said. "Existing medical conditions can be exacerbated by lack of nutrition and shelter, and Leslie was no exception to that."

Graham said Cochran will be in his prayers.

Steve Hamilton said he comes through Austin every winter, selling postcards and living on the street, and always looks forward to seeing Cochran. Hamilton said he had not seen him in the past two weeks and had been wondering where he was.

"He hasn't been around, and everybody knows when he is. That is a fact," Hamilton said.

emulvaney@statesman.com; 445-3812

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