New York Firefighter Dies after Falling from Belt Parkway in Brooklyn

NY Times - January 07, 2019

by Mihir Zaveri and Ashley Southall

A New York City firefighter died on Sunday night after falling off an elevated span of the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn while responding to a car accident, the authorities said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio identified the firefighter early Monday morning as Steven H. Pollard, 30, who joined the New York Fire Department about a year and a half ago.

At about 10 p.m., Mr. Pollard responded to the scene of a two-car accident in the westbound lanes of the Belt Parkway on the Mill Basin Bridge, just east of Flatbush Avenue, said Daniel A. Nigro, the New York City fire commissioner.

Mr. Pollard arrived on the eastbound span of the parkway, which is separated from the westbound span by a two-to-three-foot gap, Mr. Nigro said.

When he tried to get onto the westbound span to reach the crash — which included a car that had flipped over with two people inside — he fell more than 50 feet in the gap between the two sides, Mr. Nigro said.

Mr. Pollard was taken to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, where he was pronounced dead.

“It’s a terrible loss for the department, to lose a member just at the beginning of his career like this is devastating to us,” Mr. Nigro said.

Two people involved in the car accident were also hospitalized. As of early Monday morning, one was in serious condition and the other had minor injuries, a Fire Department spokesman said.

Mr. Nigro said the department was investigating what caused Mr. Pollard to fall.

Mr. Pollard was a probationary firefighter, or rookie, and was assigned to Ladder Company 170 in Brooklyn. He came from a family of firefighters: his father, Ray, is a retired New York firefighter, and his brother is an active member assigned to Ladder Company 114 in Brooklyn, the department said.

Mr. de Blasio said that he had ordered flags throughout New York City to fly at half-staff to honor Mr. Pollard.

“He devoted his life to the people of our city, like his brother, like his dad, he was trying to do such a good and important thing,” Mr. de Blasio said early Monday. “It’s just a very, very tough loss.”

New York City’s police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, said on Twitter early Monday that his department sent its condolences to Mr. Pollard’s friends, family and colleagues. New York City “will never forget your sacrifice,” he wrote.

The last time a New York City firefighter was killed was last March, when Michael R. Davidson, 37, died while fighting a massive blaze in a Harlem building being used as a set for an Edward Norton film.

Michael Gold and Matthew Haag contributed reporting.