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Tom’s Story

Tom was injured when a truck hit & ran over him in a crosswalk on Mon. Nov 16 at 6:01pm. He was brought by EMS to Rice Hospital & airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital.

An account has been established at Lake Region Bank in Willmar, MN under the name "Thomas Sykora Benefit Fund."
1690 1st Street South
Willmar, MN 56201-3483
(320) 235-5900



Published November 18 2009

WILLMAR — A 58-year-old blind man is in critical condition at St. Cloud Hospital after he was run over by a vehicle around 6 p.m. Monday at the intersection of First Street South and 19th Avenue.

According to Willmar police reports, Thomas Dennis Sykora, of Willmar, was crossing 19th Avenue in the crosswalk, when he was struck and run over by a 2002 Ford pickup driven by Gary Lee Mattson, 55, of Willmar.

Sykora, who was wearing a bright yellow jacket with reflective tape, using a white cane and being led by his guide dog, suffered serious chest injuries. He was taken by Willmar Ambulance to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar and was later airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition as of 4:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Mattson allegedly left the scene, but was located later by law enforcement officers. A witness reported seeing the vehicle stop, pull out to turn and then bounce as it ran over the pedestrian. A Kandiyohi County sheriff’s deputy was immediately on the scene and provided medical assistance to Sykora.

The incident remains under investigation by the Willmar Police Department. Sykora’s guide dog, Nectar, did not appear to be injured in the incident.
Published November 20 2009Blind man hit by vehicle upgraded, is reunited with his guide dog

WILLMAR — Thomas Sykora, the 58-year-old blind man who was run over by a vehicle Monday evening, has been upgraded to serious condition at St. Cloud Hospital.

According to postings on Sykora’s caringbridge.org web site, Sykora suffered multiple broken ribs, a broken right ankle and a broken right scapula.

He was taken by Willmar Ambulance to Rice Memorial Hospital and was later airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital.

In addition to treatment for the broken bones, he has tubes draining fluid from his chest, supplemental oxygen and was receiving pain medication and antibiotics to combat infection through intravenous fluids.

He had been transferred out of the intensive care unit on Wednesday evening.

Posted at 8:35 a.m. Thursday: “This morning dad is in the most pain he’s been in thus far.

The PCA isn’t effective for adequate pain control so he’s also receiving stronger oral pain medicine too.” PCA is an acronym for a method that allows a patient to administer his own pain medication periodically.

Family members had brought his guide dog, Nectar, to see Sykora. “She was choking herself, pulling like a sled dog, just trying to get to his side. We put the bed rail down on his left side so she could nuzzle his arm. She hasn’t left his side since. :),” the post said.

As of Thursday afternoon, no criminal charges had been filed against Willmar dentist Gary Lee Mattson, 55, who allegedly struck Sykora and ran over him around 6 p.m. at the intersection of First Street and 19th Avenue Southwest.

http://www.wctrib.com/event/article/id/59979/publisher_ID/22/

http://www.wctrib.com/event/article/id/60000/publisher_ID/22/

http://www.wctrib.com/event/article/id/60120/publisher_ID/22/

Latest Journal Update

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Mattson gets jail time, fine, required vision test for hitting blind man at busy Willmar intersection
WILLMAR — Gary Lee Mattson, 56, of Willmar, was sentenced this morning to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and a year of probation on a misdemeanor charge of failure to stop for a blind person for a Nov. 16 incident in which he ran over a blind man at First Street South and 19th Avenue in Willmar.

By: Gretchen Schlosser, West Central Tribune



WILLMAR — Gary Lee Mattson, 56, of Willmar, was sentenced this morning to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and a year of probation on a misdemeanor charge of failure to stop for a blind person for a Nov. 16 incident in which he ran over a blind man at First Street South and 19th Avenue in Willmar.


As part of his sentence, handed down by Judge Michael J. Thompson in Kandiyohi County District Court, Mattson was also ordered to take a vision test to determine if he has retinitis pigmentosa, pay $540 in restitution and attend a victim impact panel.


Mattson was ordered to being serving 30 of the 90 days in jail on Monday. The remaining 60 days was stayed for one year.


“It is unbelievable that someone would leave the scene of an accident such as this,” Thompson said before handing down the sentence. “We all make mistakes, but we have to be accountable for those mistakes.”


Mattson’s attorney, Daniel Eller, argued that Mattson was concerned about the victim, Thomas Sykora, 58, of Willmar, in the days after the crash, but did not contact Sykora to apologize because he was advised not to by his insurance company.


Police reports in the court file indicate Mattson spoke briefly to a sheriff’s deputy who had stopped for the accident and then left the scene. He was not located by law enforcement until several hours after the crash.


“He is sorry for what occurred. He is remorseful for what happened,” Eller said.


Mattson did not apologize to Sykora during the hearing, only noting that he had been told not to contact Sykora by the insurance company. He said he has no lack of remorse for his actions.


The incident left Sykora with 22 broken ribs, plus a broken scapula — or shoulder blade — and a broken ankle that required surgery. He was taken to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar and was later airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital where he was hospitalized for about a month.


Sykora’s daughter, Kelley Sykora, read her father’s victim impact statement to the court. In the statement, he recounted his pain and suffering from the time of the crash, through the hospitalization and through the recovery process.


“The impact of this offense has been huge to me, my life and my family,” the impact statement read. “It has taken away a lot of my independence and mobility.”


Sykora stated that he suffered emotional harm and discovered “terrifying panic” when he first attempted to go for a walk with his guide dog Nectar this spring and heard a car coming from behind him. He is seeking counseling, he said.


Sykora has filed a civil lawsuit against Mattson. According to the suit, Sykora is seeking a judgment in excess of $50,000 and claims he suffered severe and life-threatening injuries due to Mattson’s negligence. During the sentencing hearing, Sykora said he has hospital bills of more than $185,000.


Read more about the sentencing hearing in Thursday’s West Central Tribune.