Highland News Leader

Highland mayor breaks neck, back in fall

Highland Mayor Joe Michaelis underwent several hours of surgery Monday after breaking his back and neck during a fall down the basement stairs at his home on Sunday.

The exact extent of his injuries was unknown, but Highland Police Chief Terry Bell said Michaelis had suffered breaks in the thoracic part of his spine, as well as near the V6-7 vertebras in his neck.

“The good thing is, he had feeling in this fingers and toes (Sunday) night,” Bell said.

Michaelis was “resting comfortably” after the extensive surgery, an update on the city’s website said Tuesday morning. But he faces a long recovery.

“He’s going to have extensive rehab for a good, long time,” Bell said.

Paramedics were called to Michaelis’ home on Sunflower Drive around 6:35 p.m. on Sunday. He was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland and subsequently transferred to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, where he went into surgery around 7:30 a.m. on Monday, Bell said, and doctors worked on him until early afternoon.

Bell said the city will be posting updates on the mayor’s condition on its website www.highlandil.gov and the Facebook pages of the city’s various departments.

Michaelis has been Highland’s mayor since 2005, having been elected by wide margins three times.

Prior to being mayor, Michaelis served as a Highland police officer for 30 years, including a stint as chief.

Cards and get-well wishes may be sent to Mayor Michaelis at: Highland City Hall, Attn: Mayor Michaelis, P.O. Box 218, Highland, IL 62249.

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