By Dave Russell

At about 6 p.m. Sunday, a man on a motorcycle was seriously injured when he was struck by a car at the intersection of East Main Street and Barnes Road, near Domino’s Pizza, Sylva Police said. 

Jackson Tyler Stafford, 17, of Sylva, was traveling south on a 2008 Suzuki when a 2008 Nissan passenger car pulled out in front of him, the crash report from Sylva police stated. The driver of the car, Madison Leigh Carson, 18, of Lincolnton, said she looked both ways.

“She stated as she pulled out, she looked left again and noticed a motorcycle coming down the hill at her,” the report states. “She could not avoid the motorcycle and he collided with the front of her vehicle.”

The motorcycle was flung across the turn lane and into the northbound lanes. Police estimate Stafford was traveling 35 mph before and at impact. The speed limit is 35 mph in the area. No other vehicles were involved.

Carson was charged with failure to yield right of way. 

Stafford was transported to Harris Regional Hospital via Harris EMS and flown to Mission Hospital in Asheville, Sylva Police Chief Chris Hatton said.

The Sylva Fire Department also responded.

Monday evening, Katie Bryant, Stafford’s sister, posted a Facebook update on his condition and asked for prayers.

“Jackson is out of surgery and they said he did great,” she wrote. “His spinal cord wasn’t severed, but it was compressed and the surgeon doesn’t know if since it was compressed for a long period of time, if the damage is permanent or not. 

“They said it may be months before we know either way. They’re keeping him on the ventilator for now so his body can try to heal. He has a very long road ahead of him, but if anyone is strong and stubborn enough to get through this, it’s him.”

Stafford is a senior at Smoky Mountain High School.