By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – Sylandria Roberson won’t soon forget her 19th birthday Monday.
Sylandria, known as “Fat Cat” to her friends, was on the way home from her job at Windsor Foods when she and Mandy Hilliard ran off Hwy. 32 West in a rainstorm sometime after 4 p.m.
Their car apparently went out of control on the slick highway, spun around and ended up in a concrete culvert some 20 feet below the highway about seven miles west of Water Valley.
The two young women were able to get out of the vehicle and one – it is unclear which – climbed up the bank to the road.
She was trying to flag down passing cars when along came Samuel Jones of Oakland. Jones said that he knew something was wrong when he saw the girl standing in the rain waving her arms, so he stopped.
By this time the other young woman had managed to climb up the bank and Jones put both in his vehicle to get them out of the pouring rain until help could arrive.
Meanwhile, emergency responders were already on the scene of a vehicle crash at Central and Lafayette Streets in Water Valley when the call went out around 4:20 for the wreck on Hwy. 32.
By 4:40 several of the emergency medical personnel who responded from the Central Street incident were treating the two women on Hwy. 32. preparing to transport them to the hospital in Oxford.
Moments later another “tone out” blared from the radios of the emergency responders. County firefighters were being sent to a possible structure fire at 11013 CR 436.
Sylandria heard the radio broadcast and recognized the address as her family home about five miles south of Water Valley.
The same rainstorm that contributed to the wreck had moved east and produced a lighting bolt that struck a tree near the home. Sylandria, who had no way of knowing that the damage was limited to a small shed across the driveway from the house, was upset by the news.
Sheriff’s Deputy David Wallis talked by phone with Yalobusha Emergency Man-agement Agency Director Frank Hyde, who was at the fire, and was able to reassure Sylandria that everything was alright at home.
They were also able to reassure her mother, Mary Roberson, that Sylandria and Mandy were not seriously hurt and were being sent to the hospital as a precaution.
Her mom told the Herald that Sylandria had texted her earlier in the day. “She asked why I hadn’t wished her a happy birthday.”