Poplar Bluff man in Cape Girardeau hospital after being hit by car

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- A Poplar Bluff man is recovering in a Cape Girardeau hospital where he was taken for treatment of the injuries sustained when he was struck by a car Monday.

Charles Odell Wells, 72, was struck by a 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier, reportedly driven by Dennis Edwin Ray, 36, of Doniphan, Mo., on the Pike Creek bridge on Highway 142.

The accident occurred about 9:10 a.m. Monday on the bridge, which is near the intersection of Highway 142 and Cheshire Boulevard, according to Poplar Bluff police patrolman Jim Gerber's report.

Ray was northbound on Highway 142, approaching the Pike Creek bridge, when he "swerved off the roadway," striking Wells.

Ray reportedly told Gerber he saw Wells standing on the bridge but "must have swerved the wrong way."

At the time Wells was struck, Gerber said, he was standing next to his bicycle, about six feet from the "traveled portion" of the road.

Wells, who was semiconscious as he lay on the bridge, had obvious injuries, Gerber said.

According to Gerber, Wells initially was taken by ambulance to Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center.

After being stabilized, Gerber said, Wells was transferred to Southeast Missouri Hospital in Cape Girardeau.

As medical personnel treated Wells, Ray was arrested at 10 a.m. on suspicion of second-degree assault (vehicular injury) and driving while revoked.

He was booked at the Butler County jail and released Tuesday morning pending review of the case by the prosecuting attorney's office.

Wells underwent surgery on his elbow and feet Monday night, according to his brother, Floyd Payne.

Wells, he said, had two to three gashes on his head, which were "pretty bad. ... We thought he had a concussion, but he didn't."

Payne said his brother also suffered severe wounds on his right elbow and both feet.

"You could see the bone sticking out" of the elbow, said Floyd, who described the wound as being large enough to place his hand inside.

Both feet, Payne said, had broken bones, as well as large, open wounds.

Wells' fiancee, Debbie Lee, said it looked like a "meat grinder had been after him."

"He's lucky to be alive," said Lee, who described Wells' spirits as being high.

Both Payne and Lee said doctors may have to do skin grafts on Wells' elbow and feet.

"They want to see if they heal up on their own" first, Payne said.

In addition, Payne said, his brother's pelvis was broken on both sides.

Payne said doctors expect Wells to recover, but it "probably will be six months before ... it's going to take a while to heal."

Although he was "knocked out" initially, Payne said, his brother woke up.

"He remembers hearing a noise and turning around," Payne said. "That's all he saw and heard. Then, he remembers waking up in the ambulance."

Payne believes if his brother had been on his bicycle at the time he was hit, "he would have been killed."

Payne described the bicycle as just being a "piece of metal now."

Authorities report it was 122 feet from the impact area.

Payne said Wells had ridden his bicycle to pay his trash bill and was coming back when he stopped on the bridge to look at the fish "because he's a fisherman."

Payne described his brother as an avid fisherman. "He was leaning over the bridge ... looking at the fish in the creek and it happened," he said.

Despite his injuries and the pain, "he wants out of the hospital so he can go fishing," Payne said.

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