St. James firefighters had their hands full with calls of wires being down and more during the blizzard this past weekend, but possibly the biggest challenge they faced was trying to save an elderly man who attempted to walk home in the snow.
According to the St. James Fire District, a Head of the Harbor Police Department officer told the firefighters at their Route 25A firehouse that they received a call stating someone’s 78-year-old father was missing at roughly 8 p.m.
Chief Edward Springer, Assistant Chief Liam Carroll and Chiefs Aide’s John Gonzales and Gordon Munson responded to the call and started their trek over to Rhododendron Drive, where Springer and Carroll’s vehicles became stuck in the snow. While they called for backup, Gonzales and Munson began to look for the elderly man’s car.
Gonzales and Munson found the man with cane in hand in the road, who left his car that was stuck in the snow and began to walk, but was unable to walk any further.
“He was on his way home from visiting his wife who was in the hospital at Stony Brook,” said Carroll in a phone interview.
Carrol said the man told the firefighters he was about to lie down in the snow because he was being overcome by the storm.
"We took turns shoveling and two of us would stand behind him and guide him through the path that we shoveled,” Carroll said.
The firefighters shoveled from Rhododendron Drive to his home on Oak Ridge Drive. After about an hour and a half of shoveling, ex Captain Ryan Davis, firefighter William Theobalt Jr. and District First Responder Brandon White arrived to take the man’s vitals. The man was deemed safe enough to stay at home for the night and not in need to be brought to a nearby hospital.
“It was during the height of the storm,” Carroll said. “Branches were coming down and stuff, it was windy, it was pretty scary.”