UNION — A Union man who has given more than 30 years of his life to serving the community and helping people was severely injured Saturday night when he was struck by a car while trying to assist a motorist.
Dennis Howell, 57, has been hospitalized at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center since Saturday night after suffering multiple and severe injuries during an automobile accident on the Duncan Bypass earlier that evening.
L/Cpl Gary Miller of the SC Highway Patrol said that the accident occurred around 6:41 p.m. on US 176 (Duncan Bypass) near Medical Sciences Drive. Miller said the accident involved two vehicles and one pedestrian, Howell. He said the accident occurred when a 2007 SUV traveling west was unable to stop and struck another vehicle that he said was illegally parked in the roadway. Miller said that the SUV then overturned and struck Howell. He said that no charges have been filed in connection with the incident.
Howell, a volunteer firefighter with the Union Public Safety Department, was reportedly directing traffic on the Duncan Bypass to assist a motorist — the driver of the car Miller said was illegally parked on the Bypass — when the accident occurred.
Since the accident, Howell has been a patient at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center where, according to a Facebook posting by a family member, he is scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday (today) to put rods and plates in his ribs. The posting states that the surgery was originally scheduled to be performed earlier in the week but was postponed because the muscles in Howell’s stomach are torn and a mesh will have to put in to bring them back together. If this does not work, the posting states two or three surgeries would be needed to get the muscles back together so they can heal.
As for the surgery on Howell’s rib cage, the posting states it has to be done because the ribs are still through one of Howell’s lungs and must removed from it in order for it to heal with the chest tube. It states Howell is at high risk for that lung collapsing or accumulating fluid and causing pneumonia. It states Howell is already at risk of pneumonia because he is on a ventilator.
The Facebook posting states that the surgery on Howell’s ribs is expected to take at least three hours.
Howell, who is also known by the nicknames, “Hookman” and “Smiley,“ has been a volunteer fireman with the Union Public Safety Department for more than 30 years and has also worked with other first responder agencies over the years as well. A number of his fellow first responders went to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center Saturday in a show of support for Howell and his family, including Union Public Safety Director Sam White who said that Howell has been a volunteer with the department for at least the past 31 years.
“He’s always there to help, whether there’s a fire or not,” White said Tuesday. “A lot of times he’d just drop in to see how our firefighters were doing. He was always there to help, and not just us, but any fire department that needed help. He was always there to give that help.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.