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Man who lost leg to accused texting driver says he has already forgiven her

Patrick Kelley was part of a Waste Connections crew emptying garbage cans on River Road when a silver SUV suddenly crashed into their trash collection truck.

NEW ORLEANS — The Jefferson Parish sanitation worker who was seriously injured in a crash in Old Jefferson two months ago sat down with WWL-TV for his first interview since the accident. 

Patrick Kelley was part of a Waste Connections crew emptying garbage cans on River Road when a silver SUV suddenly crashed into their trash collection truck.

The vehicle pinned Kelley against the back of the truck, severing his leg. 

Police accused the woman who hit him of texting and driving. 

“The car hit my leg and the impact of it just took me away from my leg and threw me,” Kelley said. “I looked at my leg and I saw it was gone, I said, oh no. I just laid back and started praying to God, you know what I’m saying because I couldn’t believe it.” 

The accident happened on May 30, Memorial Day. 

Kelley said the first responders who applied a tourniquet to his leg to stop the bleeding saved his life. 

“I’d be gone. I’d be dead, right now. I wouldn’t be here to talk about it, you know. They’re angels to me. I wanted to say thank you to them,” Kelley said. 

Getting around on one leg has been difficult. 

“I use my legs more than anything,” Kelley said. “To have that taken away from me, just a shock to me because I never thought I’d be on the back of a truck and get my leg knocked off.”  

Kelley walked his mother down the aisle at her wedding in February before the accident. 

Vera Kelley Brown said after some dark days, she’s starting to see the old Patrick again. 

“His spirit, his smile, he’s praising God all the time,” Kelley Brown said. 

She’s confident her son will respond well to physical therapy which begins on Wednesday. 

“He’s a strong man. He’s a strong black man. He’s very strong. He’s dedicated. Whatever he decides to do, he’s going to do it.” 

Kelley said he’s already forgiven the woman who hit him, but he wants people to see his story as a cautionary tale about the dangers of distracted driving. 

“I’ve been praying for the dudes that are back there right now, you know. I’ve been seeing the trucks going and I’d be like, 'wow, God be with them,'” Kelley said. 

Kelley said he didn’t want his two small children who live with their mother to see him in his current condition. 

He’s finally ready to include them in his recovery. 

“I can’t run behind them, you know what I’m saying, none of that. That hurts me, you know. I love you all and Daddy going to see you all, believe that,” Kelley said. 

Kelley said he knows learning to walk on a prosthetic leg will be hard, but he’s ready to put in the work for his family and himself.  

There is a GoFundMe campaign set up to help Kelley and his children with expenses while he recovers from the accident.

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