An employee of the Mississippi Department of Transportation was seriously injured early Sunday morning after being struck by a passing motorist as he worked to clear a fallen tree from Highway 35 near Carmack.
According to Sgt. Ronald Shrive with the Mississippi Highway Patrol, Will Yates, 34, of Winona was clearing a tree from the roadway 2.5 miles south of Carmack when he was struck by a 2007 Ford F150 driven by Bruce Denson, 63 of Milwaukee, Mich. The accident occurred around 6 a.m.
Yates suffered life-threatening injuries in the accident and was transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital - Attala and was later airlifted to University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
Denson was not injured in the crash.
“The accident remains under investigation,” Shrive stated.
Yates’s sister, Amanda Cirilo said her mother, Timma Lindsay, and Yates’ wife, Trina Yates, were alerted about the accident from one of Yates’ co-workers and drove to the scene. She said her brother had been called out early that morning to make sure roads were clear of debris after a storm passed through the area. Yates, who was in his MDOT vehicle with the lights flashing, had been working to clear a tree from the road when a truck traveling northbound on Highway 35 struck the tree. She said Yates was thrown “approximately 40 feet” from the collision.
Cirilo said Yates is currently in the Critical Intensive Care Unit of UMMC with serious injuries including a head injury, a hairline fracture to the skull, a neck injury, a shattered right wrist, broken ribs, a compound fracture of his right femur, a compound fracture to his left tibia, a shattered left foot, and a dislocated and shattered left knee.
“They had to sedate him,” Cirilo said.
Cirilo said initial scans showed that his “brain, heart, and spinal cord were fine.” However, doctors did surgery Sunday afternoon to stabilize the injuries to his legs. After further monitoring of the blood flow in his left leg throughout the night, doctors could not save his left leg. Yates returned to surgery Monday afternoon.
Since Monday’s surgery, Cirilo said they have seen “major improvement,” but more surgeries are planned to repair his broken bones.
Visitation for the Critical Intensive Care Unit is from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. daily, however, only one person can go in to see Yates each day. Prior to the surgery to remove his leg Monday, both his wife and mother were allowed to see him, and Tuesday morning, Trina was allowed back to see her husband. During her visit, Yates was waking from the sedation and was she was told that her husband had been responding to a nurse’s commands.
“She said if you hear me, give me a thumbs up, and he did,” Cirilo said. “She asked him to wiggle his toes for her, and he did on his right foot.”
As of press time Wednesday, Yates was continuing to improve. According to Cirilo, he has been taken off sedation, and doctors hope to remove the ventilator soon. He will have another surgery this week.
“He’s doing really well,” Cirilo said. “Also, all the messages, calls, Snapchats that are being sent to his phone are being saved for when he is functional and can read them himself.”
Cirilo said her brother is strong and will recover from his injuries.
“We all know that once he heals, this isn’t going to slow him down,” she said. “He is going to be right back out there. He is too strong-willed and hard-headed to hold him back.”
Yates and Trina, have two daughters, Morgan and MaKayla, and he works hard to support his family. In addition to his work with MDOT, he is a reserve deputy for the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, owns his own lawn care service, works for a wild game meat processor, and is planning on opening his own wild game processing business this October. He also works at Guy’s Fish House on the weekends as a cook.
“There are several individual lawn care companies local that have offered to keep up his yards so he doesn’t lose his customers,” Cirilo said.
Cirilo said since the accident Sunday morning, the community has shown her family so much love and support, for the second time.
Two years ago this month, Yates and his family and his grandfather, Bernard Yates, were displaced after their home burned. Not long after that Bernard Yates was diagnosed with cancer.
“And the community pulled through, and once again they have provided,” Cirilo said through tears. “We have received numerous texts and calls and donations already. And we appreciate everything. It’s amazing how our community manages to pull together and to know we are backed by people who care makes it better.”
Currently, there are fundraising efforts at several area businesses, including J&S Pawn in Winona, Carrollton Nutrition, Hub Fitness in Winona, and Cloud Nine Vape Shop in Grenada. An account has been set up at the Bank of Winona under the Will Yates Benefit Fund name, as well.
Carroll County Sheriff Clint Walker said his deputies responded to the scene Saturday morning and assisted the Mississippi Highway Patrol with traffic control.
“He is a close friend to the department and a reserve deputy,” Walker said. “We are all praying for him.”