DES MOINES, IOWA– KCCI-TV photojournalist and NPPA member Chris Mackey is “lucky to be alive,” according to the critical care nurses taking care of him today at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines.
“They say they’re surprised he survived the crash,” the photojournalist’s mother told News Photographer this afternoon. “He’s been given another chance. He’s very lucky, and so are we,” Diann Mackey said from the hospital, talking on her son’s cell phone. Mackey is being moved from Mercy's ICU to a regular medical ward this afternoon, she said.
Iowa and other parts of the Midwest have been hammered by blizzards and severe winter weather this week, and the weather was very bad on Friday afternoon when Mackey was driving his 1999 Ford Explorer SUV from his home near Ames to Des Moines on his way to work at KCCI-TV Channel 8.
“Chris says he remembers the car started to fishtail, and it got worse when he tried to correct it, and then it headed down into the median,” Diann said. "He said he knew that when the tires connected with the ground it was going to roll, so he held onto the wheel and closed his eyes, and the next thing he remembers is waking up in the snow and a lady kneeling over him telling him, ‘You’re going to be alright.’”
Mackey says her son’s Explorer was destroyed in the accident and that Chris was ejected from the vehicle and thrown about 20 feet from the crash. “The Good Samaritan (an unnamed woman) who was there with him called 911. He has a fractured skull, a broken nose, broken teeth, cheekbones, and bruising, and they had to put a metal plate in his forehead. But other than that, he didn’t have any other broken bones.”
NPPA’s Region 5 associate director Mike Borland visited Mackey today at Mercy Hospital. “He’s in some pain but he knows that he’s lucky to be alive,” Borland said. “He doesn’t have any spinal damage and his eyes are fine too, and he seems to be improving today.”
Borland said the photographer is a student at Iowa State who expects to graduate in May.