PB police officer recovering after farm accident

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Daily American Republic

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- A Poplar Bluff police officer is recovering at home after his hand was nearly crushed in a hay baler earlier this week.

According to Joe Ward's wife, Christy, he is "quite a bit better."

Ward was injured Monday while working on a hay baler.

He shut the baler off and did some work on it, she said. He turned it back on to make sure it was working. When he did, a "belt twisted and pulled him in," she said. "It grabbed his glove actually. ... It wasn't that he wasn't paying attention. He was doing what he was supposed to. It just didn't work out right."

Ward said her husband was able to brace himself against the baler so the machine didn't draw his arm in farther.

When the accident happened, Poplar Bluff Police dispatcher/reserve officer Keith Hefner was working with Ward. Hefner went for help, while Ward's sons, Dalton and Ethan, stayed with their dad.

"He said he felt like he was going to pass out, but he couldn't because the boys were there," Christy Ward said. "Dalton kept getting him some water. ... They knew what to do, which was really good."

Her husband was later flown to Elvis Presley Trauma Center in Memphis, Tenn., where he underwent several hours of surgery. The surgeon put several pins in Ward's fingers, she said. They will have to be removed in about three months. With physical therapy, he should get most of the use of his hand back, Christy Ward said.

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