It’s been a little more than two months since James “Jimmy” Morris crashed his ultra light aircraft in a field off of Goshen Road.
The March 29 accident left the former Effingham County Magistrate Court constable and retired county sheriff’s deputy with extensive, multiple injuries: two broken legs, a compound fractured right arm that splintered, a shattered ankle, chemical burns and the loss of his left eye. He spent over a month in intensive care and has recently been moved to a private recovery center in Savannah.
In an effort to help Morris with the ever-increasing cost of recovery, three of Morris’ friends have planned a “Just Helping Jimmy” benefit ride, scheduled for July 12 in Springfield and are asking the public to come out and support their endeavor.
“(I) had been thinking about doing something but didn’t know what,” said Mike Waldron of Effingham County Animal Control. “Then Brian (Lowe) called me and said he wanted to do something for Jimmy.”
Lowe mentioned planning a poker-run-type of event and Waldron said OK. They decided on a ride through the county as a parade of sorts with motorcycles, custom and classic cars along with custom and classic trucks; however, the event is open to anyone who wants to participate for a donation of $10 — due on the day of the event.
Waldron and Lowe have been working with Wayne Guhl (also with Animal Control) in getting the word out.
During his lunch break on May 21, Guhl put out fliers and received their first donation to the benefit from Marla Dyson of New Life Flowers.
Although Dyson doesn’t know Morris, she had heard about the crash.
“I felt bad for him and his family,” she said. “When something like that happens to one of our own, especially someone who has given so much to our community, it would be nice if people would give back. Every dollar or five given is a dollar or five less that they (family) have to worry about.”
She gave a $100 donation to Guhl. Waldron took the money to Beth Jones, Morris’ sister, and they opened up a Jimmy Morris recovery fund account at Citizens Bank.
“We chose Citizens because there is a branch in all the towns throughout the county,” said Waldron. “We wanted to make it easy for people to make donations.”
They also have two donation jars at two local convenient stores: the BP Station on Highway 21 and Lowell Street and at the Timesaver at Ebenezer and Highway 21.
Benefit ride details
The event will be held July 12. Registration begins at 9 a.m. at the old courthouse/new courthouse parking lot in Springfield. Several Hooters’ employees will be on hand to sell raffle tickets for $1 during registration. Raffled items include: Harley Davidson equipment, some Hooters VIP passes for a party of ten and other gift cards and merchandise.
The ride will officially begin at 11 a.m. and will encompass Springfield, Guyton, Meldrim and Rincon.
The motorcycles will go first with the classic and custom vehicles following suit. Local area law enforcement will be on hand to help with traffic and during registration. An escort will also be provided to Morris’ family as they take the donations to the bank after registration.
The raffle drawing will take place after the ride ends at the courthouse in Springfield. Guhl said individuals must be present to win.
While the focus is on motorcycles, custom and classic autos and trucks, some people will be driving their regular vehicles.
“I’m just driving my personal car, just gonna file in there with my ugly old car,” said Sherra Poole, deputy clerk of Magistrate Court and a friend of Morris’.
Morris recovery update
Morris recently celebrated his 66th birthday in the private recovery center in Savannah, still under doctor’s care.
“He is doing very well,” said Jones. “He will recover, but it’s going to be a long road.”
Morris is still not on his feet. Yet, his family and friends say that they are told the doctors will have him up within the next month or so. He has rods in both legs and in his upper and lower right arm. In addition, he’s got pins in his elbow. He also has an open wound on his right arm from the compound fracture.
“Because Jimmy’s diabetic, they can’t perform the skin graft right now for fear of infection,” said long-time friend Tim Holland of the sheriff’s office.
“It’s got to be healed for so long before they can do a skin graft.”
In the meantime, the doctors have had to keep the wound clean, scraping it out on occasion. The overall healing process has had its occasional setbacks as well. According to Holland, Morris spent most of the first month “out of it” from multiple surgeries and necessary pain medications.
If he gets a fever or any other kind of ailment unrelated, it also sets the healing time back.
Although Morris lost his left eye and the doctors had to reconstruct the orbital socket, his eye is now healing nicely — according to Jones.
“He will have an artificial eye put in at some point, but the doctor said that that would be once got recovered,” said Morris’ sister. “Our main goal right now is to get him on his feet and get his arm healed.”
Family thanks supporters; Friends, family urge continued support
“(We) would like to thank everybody for their prayers, cards and visits to Jimmy,” said Jones on behalf of the family.
“We’ve had people all over three or four counties that have called to check up on Jimmy. But we urge continued support and prayers.”
Before the accident, Morris took care of his mother. One of his daughters has taken over for her father, working to make his house more accessible for him when he returns home.
“He’s got no benefits, no insurance, no nothing as a constable,” said Holland.
According to Holland, there were three trauma teams working on Morris the first night and with an undetermined amount of time still left for recovery, his family and friends are concerned.
“He’s definitely going to need the help,” Jones said. “I can’t even imagine what his medical bills will be. He spent over a month in ICU. We know it’s going to be another month to get him on his feet, and after that he’ll probably have physical therapy.”
Morris’ friends describe him as someone who is always willing to help his friends out.
“He’s a big mother hen around here; he protects us,” Poole said.
She along with coworker Karen Fary visits Morris on the weekends. Poole said she takes him fresh fruit and feeds it to him. Holland says he helps him shave.
“We’re all happy to help each other and that’s the bottom line; that’s why we are here — for each other,” said Poole.
“You never know,” said Holland. “The next person who needs the help may be you.”
Citizens Bank donations
Individuals interested in making donations can go by any Citizens Bank branch and tell the cashier that they would like to make a contribution to the Jimmy Morris Recovery Fund.