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‘Barefoot Bandit’ says he raised enough money to freeze late mother, but project failed

Colton Harris-Moore, now 25, is asking for donations for pilot training. (AP)

Colton Harris-Moore’s mother has passed away. Moore, who had become known as the “Barefoot Bandit,” was fervently working on a plan to freeze his mother using cryonics, but that plan failed.

“If Pam had lived two more days, or even through today, we would have been able to accomplish this,” Harris-Moore said Wednesday.

“I feel profound disappointment because I know that cryopreservation would have saved my mom’s life,” he said. “It would have worked. It would have worked and my mom’s life could have been saved … My mom died a little over 12 hours ago and it could have been avoided.”

Related: Barefoot Bandit breaks silence from jail for cause close to his heart

Harris-Moore, 25, announced Wednesday that his mother, Pam Kohler, passed away on the evening of May 17. She had been suffering from metastatic lung cancer. From behind bars he attempted to raise enough money to cryonically freeze his mother in an attempt to save her life once medicine could catch up to her disease. The effort came at a time when Harris-Moore is about to be released from prison.

“I’m grappling with the fact that one of the only people I truly loved and cared about in this world isn’t going to be there,” he said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this. I’ve been crying my eyes out all day, and I’m still coming to terms with this.”

He raised about 1 percent of the cost to freeze his mom through a GoFundMe page, he said. But that method was a “total disaster.” So he tried other ideas.

“Then what I did was I went around seeking a personal loan from a few people that I know. That was scheduled and moving along but would take up to eight weeks to close the deal,” he said, noting that would take too long.

Harris-Moore then reached out to every person he knew, and a few people he didn’t know directly, and asked for pledges of $10,000 each.

“Out of thin air I was able to raise over $80,000, which was the absolute minimum that Alcor would accept to perform the cryopreservation. We actually secured that funding yesterday,” Harris-Moore said. “My mom passed away last night at 10 p.m. and we were not able to have the money wired in time. So we were not able to accomplish our goal of having my mom cryopreserved. It’s a real tragedy.”

Harris-Moore said he has instructed everyone who donated to his GoFundMe page – which raised $2,170 out of his goal of $230,000 – to log onto the website and rescind their donations.

Why it didn’t work

Harris-Moore said that there are a few reasons why it was so difficult to raise enough money for his project. First, he said, was the time it took to convince people of his opinion that cryonics is a valid science. The science behind cryonics has been highly debatable, however, there remains a range of companies that offer the services for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But the uphill battle to convince people of his opinion was just one dilemma. Harris-Moore also argues that “many, many” people were actively working against him and his effort. He specifically called out Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks. Banks was among a handful of prosecutors who initially pursued charges against Harris-Moore.

Banks spoke with the Los Angeles Times and cautioned against donating to Harris-Moore’s project:

Since Mr. Harris-Moore’s crimes were theft and burglary, would-be donors should take that into account.

Harris-Moore stressed that he doesn’t usually blame other people for bad things, but in this case he feels the “work of others” kept him from accomplishing his goal and that they influenced the outcome of his efforts. He explains it by partially quoting one of his modern heroes.

“Ya know Donald Trump always says ‘Crooked Hillary,’ and we have ‘Lying Ted,’ and I like to say that we have Unethical Greg Banks,” Harris-Moore said. “Because where is it appropriate for a county official to shoot down somebody’s attempts to save their family member’s life? I just don’t understand it.”

Banks expressed sympathy for Harris-Moore upon hearing about Kohler’s death, but stands behind his previous statement.

“I’m sorry for Mr. Harris-Moore’s loss,” Banks said. ” Losing a parent is a profound event in a young person’s life.”

“I’m not sorry for my comments to the LA Times, which were made in the interest of protecting the public,” he said. ” I think the reason he raised less than 1 percent of his goal had more to do with people’s good sense than anything I said.”

What now?

Harris-Moore is slated to be released from jail this summer. As he has said in the past, he plans to go into “countless industries” primarily in aerospace. And he also plans to dedicate himself to the industry of cryonics.

“Cryonics parallels the technology industry in the ’70s and ’80s,” he said. “Whoever pioneers it is going to become extremely wealthy. In 15-25 years, cryonics is going to be an everyday aspect of our reality. It will save lives every year. They say the same the same things about cryonics that they said about personal computers in the ’70s. And we see everyday how that turned out.”

“It’s hugely disappointing that my mom could not be a part of that,” he added.

More immediately, he said he has already received a job offer.

“I just got a job offer last week that pays me over $90,000 a year,” he said — but declined to specify where, other than it is in the Seattle area.

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