At first, those who work with paralegal Andre Steed had nothing but questions about how their friend and colleague ended up alone and badly injured on a busy Center City street one evening last week.

Steed, 40, was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital with severe head injuries and was put into a medically induced coma to protect him from further injury.

His colleagues soon learned that police on the scene of the Oct. 15 incident found no witnesses who could explain what happened. Thus, there was no active investigation.

That's when Steed's colleagues at the law firm of Caesar, Rivise, Bernstein, Cohen & Pokotilow went to work.

His coworkers went to 16th and Locust Streets, where Steed was hurt, and started asking around. They printed fliers with Steed's photograph.

Within days, they had two eyewitnesses ready to tell the police that they heard a loud crash, then saw two men on the ground, one of whom had been riding a bicycle. The bicyclist, according to those witnesses, indicated that he had hit Steed, then vanished from the scene.

With those accounts, Steed's colleagues went to the police this week and requested an investigation. The case is now being probed by the department's accident-investigation division, police said yesterday.

"All of us are devastated by this," said Sal Guerriero, a lawyer at the firm. "We have a family mentality here, and Andre is a big part of this place."

Steed, who lives in the city's Fairmount area, grew up in West Philadelphia and attended Temple University, said a cousin, Paret Williams. Steed has worked for more than a decade at the roughly 50-person firm, which specializes in intellectual-property law.

Steed is still in the intensive-care unit in a medically induced coma, which doctors have said will prevent further brain injuries from possible swelling. They believe he may have hit his head on something as he fell, or crashed to the sidewalk hard. Steed's mother and the rest of the family have been at his side since last week.

"We don't know how this could happen," Williams said. "But right now we're trying to focus on him getting better."

He added: "Andre would be the first person to help out if this had happened to someone else."

Guerriero and coworkers have pieced together as much of the accident as they could from the accounts of people who called after seeing the flier.

Steed was a few blocks from his office when he was hit sometime between 6 and 6:30 p.m. Two people told lawyers from the firm that they heard a loud crash, then saw Steed on the ground with the bicyclist. The bicyclist got up and spoke briefly to one of the witnesses, who said the bicyclist admitted that he had hit Steed. The cyclist then adjusted his handlebars and pedaled away.

Witnesses said the bicyclist was a thin, white man who appeared to be in his early 20s. He was about 5-foot-9, wearing a white hooded sweatshirt with red spots, and rode a while mountain bike.

Anyone with information is asked to call the accident-investigation division at 215-685-3180.