City worker seriously hurt by falling saguaro
A city of Yuma Utilities Department employee remains under intensive care after being seriously injured while responding to an emergency water leak earlier this week.
City officials confirmed Thursday that William “Billy” Mason, a water distribution technician, was injured early Tuesday morning while working with a crew that was repairing an emergency water leak in the Del Oro Estates subdivision.
A 16-foot saguaro from a nearby property struck and pinned the 40-year-old Mason while he was working, resulting in multiple injuries. After being freed, Mason was transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center, where he remained in intensive care on Thursday.
According to his mother-in-law, Caroline Ashley, Mason was to go into surgery late Thursday. A condition report was not available by press time.
She said the falling cactus broke Mason's back and leg and injured his arm. He also suffered internal injuries and was running a fever. So far, 146 cactus spines had been pulled out of him but more remained.
However, the full extent of his injuries was unknown Thursday afternoon, said Ashley, who lives in Arkansas and was awaiting word from her daughter.
“We'll have to see how the surgery goes to learn the extent of his injuries. It was a horrible accident. He's in very serious condition. We don't even know if he will live. We're all praying for him.”
Ashley said the medical team treating Mason includes a pulmonologist, trauma orthopedic surgeon, regular orthopedic doctor, spinal specialist, general surgeon, infectious control doctor and hospitalist.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill and his family,” said City Administrator Greg Wilkinson. “We're doing everything we can to assist his family.”
The Masons moved several months ago to Yuma, where Felisha Mason has a contract to work at YRMC. They have no family in Yuma.
The Masons' three grown children live in Arkansas. Mason's father is on his way to Yuma, Ashley said.
The cause of the cactus falling on Mason remains under investigation, according to the city.
The largest cactus in the United States, saguaros weigh between 3,200 pounds and 4,800 pounds despite having roots that are generally only four to six inches deep, anchored by a larger, single tap root.
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6853. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YSJoyceLobeck or on Twitter at @YSJoyceLobeck.