By Tony Parra
A Floyd man is trying to recover from a fractured pelvis in the Laurel Plains Healthcare Rehabilitation center in Clovis after a cattle guard landed on him in an accident on Thursday, according to Charlene Hardin, Roosevelt County Administrator.
Ronny Tipton, 51, a Roosevelt County road department employee, was injured when he and another worker, Efran Urias, were cleaning underneath a cattle guard one mile north and one mile west of Dora on S. Roosevelt Road S at 8:13 a.m. on Thursday, according to Becky Fraze of the Dora Fire Department and Emergency Management System.
Fraze said Dora EMS workers responded to the call. According to Fraze, Urias helped remove Tipton from underneath the cattle guard by the time Dora EMS workers arrived.
“I thank God that Efran saved his life,” Doddie Tipton, Ronny’s wife, said. “Those cattle guards weigh from 1,300 to 1,500 pounds. I think (Efran) was so scared that he was able to lift it on adrenaline rush.”
Donnie Tipton said Dora EMS transported her husband to Roosevelt General Hospital and then he was transferred to Lubbock Covenant by helicopter. Doddie Tipton said her husband was transferred from Lubbock Covenant hospital to Laurel Plains Healthcare on Tuesday.
“I received a call from Ronny’s cell phone,” Doddie Tipton said. “When I heard it was Efran’s voice, I knew something was wrong. He told me there was an accident.”
Hardin said Ronny Tipton and Urias tied a chain around the cattle guard and lifted the cattle guard with a road grader blade. The workers were underneath the cattle guard when it slipped and collapsed on them. Hardin said Urias suffered scrapes to his shoulder, but no major injuries.
Hardin said the dirt builds up on the cattle guard, creating a path for cattle to cross — when that happens, the cattle guards are useless. Urias and Ronny Tipton were doing standard maintenance on the guard on Thursday morning.
“Maintaining the cattle guards is dangerous,” Hardin said. “This will cause us to rethink the way we take them off and clean them. We need to have better safety precautions.”
Doddie Tipton said her husband has been working for the county since 1991.
Doddie Tipton said doctors told her he would not be able to walk for six to eight weeks. According to Doddie Tipton, a few of the small bones from the spinal cord on the lower back will need to be fused together through surgery. She said after that, Ronny Tipton will have a long road ahead of him to recover and be able to walk.
Hardin said she has already notified the county’s insurance company, which is provided through the Associated Counties of New Mexico. Hardin said Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials have not opened up an investigation on the accident and said they have not yet contacted her to tell her if they will.