LARRY CELONA, C.J. SULLIVAN AND JOHN DOYLE ON JUL 21, 2006
An elite firefighter who was badly hurt in a taxi crash helped take part in the rescue of a man who had fallen onto subway tracks just hours earlier.
Mike Schunk, 41, was in stable condition yesterday at New York Hospital – the same hospital where the man he helped save was recuperating – after undergoing surgery on his broken right leg, officials said.
His squad mate, John Walters, 37, was in critical condition after 12 hours of surgery at Bellevue Hospital to repair his legs, which were crushed in the Wednesday accident, officials said.
Schunk is “doing really well. His spirits are good. He is expected to have a good recovery,” said his wife, Veronica Schunk, who brought their 2-year-old daughter, Bridget, to the hospital to see her daddy for the first time since the accident.
Mayor Bloomberg visited both firefighters yesterday.
Schunk – a 12-year veteran who has been with Rescue 1 for four years – had responded at 5:30 p.m. when Dean Hart, 48, of Jericho, L.I., had fallen onto the tracks at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue after a seizure.
A good Samaritan, Sonia Delgado, pulled Hart up, saving him from a train.
Schunk then helped carry Hart on a stretcher to an ambulance and to New York Hospital.
At 10:30 p.m., Walters and Schunk were hurt when a cab slammed into them as they walked behind their double-parked rig on Columbus Avenue at West 71st Street after stopping to pick up dinner.
Walters was pinned between the cab and the truck, and Schunk was tossed to the ground.
The cabby, Mohamed Ali Khamis, 45, of Manhattan, told investigators he was cut off by a car and forced to swerve into the lane where the truck was parked, sources said.
There were no skid marks at the scene, and it appeared Khamis did not slow down.
Khamis has a clean driving record. No summonses were issued, and police said they had no reason to believe the incident was anything but an accident.
But that did little to comfort Schunk and Walters’ fellow firefighters, some of whom watched as their squad mates were run down.
“The cab didn’t even brake! It’s ridiculous how they drive in this city,” said one firefighter visiting Walters at Bellevue.
“Schunk is a firefighter’s firefighter. He’s third generation, and he almost gets taken out by a cabdriver. Walters and he are two good men.”
Others said Schunk is the squad’s best cook, and is known for his linguini with clam sauce.
Walters, who is married with no children, worked hard to make a good impression with his new squad mates, they said. An 11-year veteran, he had been assigned to Rescue 1 six months ago, on loan from Engine 288 in Queens.