Family of sanitation worker who lost leg to distracted driver says they’re just happy he’s alive

Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 10:19 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - State Police say a woman texting and driving on Memorial Day cost a sanitation worker his leg when she crashed into the back of his garbage truck.

The family of Patrick Kelley, 42, says there’s a long road ahead, but they still have forgiveness in their hearts.

“When I went into my son’s room, I said thank you Jesus and I almost dropped to the floor because you know, I thought he was worse than what I seen, but the Lord saved Patrick,” his mother Vera Kelley said.

Vera didn’t know what to expect when she got to UMC.

Patrick was loading trash into the compactor on his garbage truck on River Road near the Rivershack Tavern and Shrewsbury Road around 8:15 Monday morning.

State Police say a Toyota RAV4 rammed into it, pinning the father of two between the two vehicles.

“When I hugged him and everything, I was crying, he was holding me up, but when I went and then see his leg and I asked ‘Baby, what happened? Where’s your...’ because I didn’t know nothing that was going on,” Vera said.

Patrick may have lost his leg, but he and his family, who hasn’t left his side, just thank God he still has his life.

“That’s the first thing Patrick said to me when I got inside the room, he said ‘Titi, God kept me here for a reason.’ and I said, ‘Good, you take that and go with it and go where the Lord takes you with that because yes, he did. He left you here for a reason and you’re still here for your kids,’” his aunt Sylvia Williams said.

They also thank the first responders that stopped him from bleeding out on the side of the road.

He still has two surgeries to go through and a new way of life to adjust to, but he’s in high spirits and surrounded by love.

“He told me, ‘Joe, God’s got me,’” his step-father Joseph Brown said.

“God be the glory and I have to keep smiling because my son is smiling with his dimples, because he has dimples like his mom, but he’s smiling and with all my sisters in brothers and nephews and nieces all around me, I’m blessed and we all truly blessed,” Vera said.

Investigators say the driver, May Wen, 44, admitted she was distracted by a text message.

“What could they have had that important to say that it couldn’t wait?” Williams asked. “Things happen in an instant. They happen so fast. So, please put the phones away while you’re driving and not text.”

Wen was arrested and booked with negligent injuring and careless operation.

“I had to forgive the lady and that, you know, hope that she’s okay. I have to forgive because I have been forgiven,” Vera said.

Patrick’s next surgery is on Friday.

His family started a GoFundMe for his medical costs and asks anyone that wants to donate to find the one started by the Kelley and Williams family.

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