Hurt Firefighter Robert Puppa Put Own Pain Aside In Concern For Others, Proud Mother Says

NY Times - October 26, 2009

by Maria Clark and Elizabeth Hays

Even as he lay trapped beneath a fire truck for two hours, a Brooklyn firefighter was more concerned about his colleagues than himself, his proud mom said Sunday. "He just kept asking if everyone else was okay," said Marianne Sawan, 52, whose son, Firefighter Robert Puppa, 33, was pinned beneath the Ladder 107 truck he was driving after it collided with another fire truck. "He was more worried about everyone else."

The horrific smashup occurred just after 9:30 a.m. Saturday when Puppa's rig slammed into an Engine 236 truck on Ashford St. in East New York.

The impact caused Puppa's rig to flip and sent the other truck careening into a wall.

Rescue workers had to cut through the steering panel to reach Puppa, a nine-year FDNY veteran whose father, James, is a retired firefighter.

They eventually pulled him out through a windshield as a crowd erupted in cheers.

"He's very sore, but he's doing much better," said Sawan.

Eleven other firefighters were injured in the accident, including Puppa's commanding officer, Lt. Kevin Washington.

Washington, 53, and Puppa suffered serious leg injuries and were taken to Brookdale University Hospital, where they remained Sunday.

"We're doing good," said Washington, a 27-year veteran, from his hospital bed.

Both trucks were responding to a reported gas leak.

Washington's brother Capt. Paul Washington of Engine 234 in Crown Heights said Kevin was in the front passenger seat and was trapped for nearly 30 minutes before he was rescued.

"He's doing good, but he's in a lot of pain," said Paul Washington, a past president of the Vulcan Society. "He's got some pretty good injuries to his legs."