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Former commissioner Billy Yow injured in well-drilling accident

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Family members say former Guilford County Commissioner Billy Yow is in critical condition after he was injured in a well-drilling accident Thursday night.

Guilford County Commissioner Linda Shaw says a piece of drilling equipment hit the 50-year-old in the head twice shortly before 5:45 p.m. when it came loose.

Yow was digging a water well in a woman’s front yard in Colfax at the time of the incident. He has owned D&Y Well Drilling, Inc. in Greensboro for nearly 30 years.

Yow was taken to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.

As of Friday, a hospital spokesperson said Yow's condition was still critical, although he has been taken off of life support.

Authorities said the next 24-48 hours will be crucial for Yow's health. Family and doctors said they are cautiously optimistic.

A family spokesperson said that, as of 12:45 a.m., Yow had not yet been in surgery, but was in the ICU where doctors were monitoring his head injury. He also suffered multiple facial fractures, they added.

The family says it will be another day or two before they know exactly how serious Yow's injuries are.

They currently are requesting prayers and privacy.

Yow was first elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2000. He served for 12 years before his seat was eliminated in the board's restructuring. He ran for Congress in 2012, but lost to Howard Coble.

A Guilford County native, Yow attended Southern Guilford High School. He served in the N.C. National Guard for 10 years, attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant.

U.S. Rep. Howard Coble issued the following statement on Friday afternoon about Yow's recovery:

“I am hoping and praying that my good friend Billy Yow makes a complete recovery from the serious injury that he suffered last night. Knowing Billy like I do, I am sure that he will display the strength and determination he has shown throughout his life as he battles back to good health.

“I have always referred to Billy as the Commissioner with the beguiling smile, and I have always meant that in the most complimentary way. Displaying that beguiling smile, Billy always let you know that he didn’t take himself too seriously. He has a zest for life, and he will need every ounce of that energy as he faces the health obstacles that lie ahead.

“I can’t wait for Billy to walk out of the hospital – displaying that beguiling smile – for all to see. That’s when we will know that Billy Yow is back and ready to take on his next challenge.”

Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes said Yow -- a father of two and Guilford County native -- was coherent on Friday, despite being in the intensive care unit.

“It can be very very dangerous when you have a head trauma. But you know, Billy Yow is pretty hard headed,” Barnes said. “I say that with all the love and jokingly.”