NY Daily News - January 08, 2019by MARCO POGGIO , KERRY BURKE and LEONARD GREENE
The death of a city firefighter brought out the best of a Brooklyn neighborhood, where residents on Monday delivered delivered hugs, food and words of comfort to the victim’s grief-stricken colleagues.
More than 100 firefighters lined the street outside Canarsie’s Ladder 170 to pay their respects to Steven Pollard, 30, a probational firefighter who fell to his death Sunday from a Belt Parkway bridge in Brooklyn while responding to a car crash.
Firefighters in a cherry picker placed black and purple bunting above the station house entrance, as bagpipes played “Amazing Grace.”
“I’d like to thank everybody for being here tonight, for this painful day for us, a painful day for the Pollard family, a painful day for the Canarsie family, and most of all for the Fire Department,” said Ladder 170 Capt. James Quinn.
“Steven Pollard came to us in November of 2017, out of probie school. He was the model probie. Any job we gave him, he accomplished it. Any task we asked him to do, he did it well.
“He had just recently gotten out of probation. He was a good firefighter. He was on the way to being a great firefighter. He was going to become an anchor in the firehouse.” Pollard came from a family of firefighters, including his father and brother. Pollard’s father-in-law, retired firefighter Gerard Finnegan, 65, said Pollard was born to do the work.
“He was very strong and very dedicated,” Finnegan said. “He loved the job.”
“We’re all extremely devastated,” Finnegan said. “You never think it’s going to happen to you or one of your own. He couldn’t wait to become a firefighter. He followed the footsteps of his life.”
Pollard fell to his death from the Mill Basin Bridge after responding with his company to an overturned car around 10:20 p.m. Sunday.
On his way to rescue two men trapped by the crash, Pollard tried to get from the westbound side of the highway to the crash scene in the eastbound lanes. But he was unable to clear a 3-foot gap between the two sides of the bridge, which was recently rebuilt, and fell about 50 feet into a construction site.
Medics rushed Pollard to Kings County Hospital with a serious head injury, officials said. He was declared dead at the hospital.
“In his short amount of time on the job, Steven Pollard made a massive impact in the Brooklyn community and was very well liked by his officers and fellow firefighters for his excellent work,” Uniformed Firefighters Association President Gerard Fitzgerald said in a statement.
“Steven truly epitomized what it mean to be one of `New York’s Bravest,’ and will be dearly missed.”
Injured in the Belt Parkway accident were Travis Simms, 30 of Brooklyn and Kostadinos Karounos, 31, of Franklin Square, LI.
Cops said Simms’ 2001 Ford was heading east on the Belt Parkway when it hit a patch of black ice, causing Simms to lose control. Cops said the car hit a guardrail before it hit Karounos’ 2018 Jeep. The Ford SUV rolled over during the crash.
“He risked his life to save mine,” Simms, a city Correction Officer, told WABC/Channel 7. “He’s definitely my hero. May he rest in peace," Simms said.
Mayor de Blasio ordered flags throughout the five boroughs to fly at half-staff in Pollard’s honor.
Workers at the deli across the street from Ladder 170 recalled the fallen fire hero as a polite and pleasant professional who took his job seriously and was dedicated to his fellow firefighters.
“He used to come here about three times a week,” said Carlos Pujol, 37, a worker at Willy’s Deli Corp. “He bought juice, eggs, bacon, bananas, to bring back at the station.” Pujol said Pollard would come in by himself or with his colleagues.
“It’s very sad,” Pujol said of Pollard’s death. “He was just doing his job. They’re like a family in there. It’s hard when you leave together and you come back missing one.”
Quinn said Pollard had recently finished his probationary period, and that the he was about to receive his helmet shield that says “170.” Quinn, who was holding the shield, said it will be placed on Pollard’s helmet and given to his family. Funeral arrangements had not yet been made.
“He earned this patch. He passed his probation with flying colors,” Quinn said. “This is a dangerous job, we all know that. Any day we go out on a run there’s nothing routine about it. We never know what we’re going to run into. But we love this job, and Steven loved this job.”