Community support pours in for Joe Birch

WATCH: Joe Birch speaks with Ursula Madden after car accident

(WMC-TV) – Since the news spread about an Action News 5 news anchor's car accident, the newsroom has been overwhelmed with phone calls, Facebook messages, and e-mails from people in the community who are thinking about Joe Birch.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell even offered his thoughts and prayers. And he is not alone. It seems the entire Mid-South is hoping that Joe Birch will get well soon.

"He's like the river, I mean, he's like Beale Street. I mean, what is Memphis without Joe Birch? So Memphis is Joe Birch, Joe Birch is Memphis," said Mayor A C Wharton.

Forty minutes after signing off the 6 p.m. news Tuesday evening, the longtime news anchor broke his neck in a wreck on Union Avenue.

Sally Heinz with the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association is also sending positive thoughts Joe's way.

"All of us here are wishing prayers for his recovery," she said.

Every Tuesday for the past 15 years Joe has delivered MIFA's meals on wheels to the nine clients on route 12.

"He said once about the clients on that route that they mean more to him than air and water," Sally said.

His outreach reaches even further than MIFA. Joe also founded the Gibson Guitar 5k Run-Walk.

Father Tim Sullivan, St. Patrick Catholic Church, says he is not just a parishioner, fundraiser, and philanthropist, but a close personal friend, too.

"He lives his faith fully, generously, and with great compassion. For all of us it's a great gift that he's part of our community," said Father Sullivan.

As bad as the injury sounds, Joe still has full feeling in all extremities and is expected to fully recover.

"And I know he's a real believer so tell him the manufacturer put a lifetime warranty on him and he'll get these repairs done and he'll be good as new," said Mayor Wharton.

The support for Joe was evident on Facebook as well, where hundreds of Action News 5 viewers offered well wishes and support.

"He really loves people deeply and it shows in his actions," said Father Sullivan.

The other driver involved in the accident was treated and released from the hospital.

Action News 5's Nick Kenney spoke with the young woman's mother who said they, also, are praying for Joe's speedy recovery.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.