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Worker injured by falling cactus grateful for support
William “Billy” Mason, who was seriously injured last month when a large cactus fell on him, is walking with a walker — a miracle as far as he's concerned.
He's now recuperating at home and looking to undergo rehabilitation three times a week for at least the next three months.
Asked how he was doing, he replied in a soft, Southern drawl that he was “OK, so far as I can tell. I'm not aware of any lasting damage.”
Having been struck by a 16-foot saguaro cactus, he considers himself quite fortunate.
Mason, a water distribution technician with the city of Yuma Utilities Department, was injured early the morning of June 19 while working with a utilities crew. They had responded to an emergency water leak in the Del Oro Estates subdivision at about 2 a.m.
Mason said he had just arrived at the site where excavation of the leaking water line was already under way. He recalled hearing someone yell: “Watch out!”
The next thing he knew, he was lying on the ground with a 2,000- to 3,000-pound cactus on his chest.
Mason recalled that the cactus initially struck him on the back of his head, likely compressing a vertebra in his back. In addition, his left leg was broken and now has a rod from his hip to the front of his knee. He also has “hardware” in his back.
Then there were the hundreds of cactus spines that are still working their way out of his body.
“It was all pretty horrible,” he says of the accident.
He figures the blow swung him around so the cactus landed on his chest.
He's not sure how long it took to get him free. “The only thought going through my mind was ‘Get this thing off me.'”
Looking back, he's grateful for the help of his co-workers and for the paramedics “who were absolutely outstanding. I've never met such nice caring people … a phenomenal group.”
The ongoing support of his co-workers, his wife's co-workers and the community continues to touch him.
“It's been an amazing response. I've never seen a nicer — closer — group of people. These people didn't know who I am but they stepped up.”
The Masons moved to Yuma a year ago from Benton, Ark. Felisha had accepted a job as a pediatrics nurse at Yuma Regional Medical Center.
Mason followed his wife in July 2011 and found a job with the city.
His accident has convinced him Yuma is a pretty good place to live.
Other places, he said, “we would have had the support of extended family. But the support of total strangers like it has been here … I don't think that would have happened anywhere else. It's been really touching.”
It's also added a more positive outlook to his life, he said. He wants to getting more involved in the community that embraced him and his wife in their time of need.
“I'm looking forward to being able to help others.”
“Billy is one of the many hard-working employees we have in the city,” said City Administrator Greg Wilkinson.
“It was extremely gratifying to once again see the great response from the employees in providing support and raising money to help him and his family,” said Wilkinson, noting that more than $1,300 was raised during a city employee luncheon and given to Mason.
“We were overwhelmed by the response from the community to help the Masons,” Wilkinson said. “It easy to see why we live here and love the Yuma community we serve.”
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.