A 46-year-old Westwood man who responders said was drunk when he was whacked by a commuter train during an evening rainstorm owes his life to several heroes.
Looking toward his second year as the borough’s top law enforcement officer, Chief Michael Pontillo says his own squad’s response to the incident "just shows the quality of officers we have in Westwood.”
Praise also goes to a pair of good Samaritans who came to the man’s aid after he suffered a devastating pelvic injury around 8:15 p.m. Friday.
Edson Zarte of Passaic, who witnessed the incident, tried using a belt as a tourniquet while nurse practitioner Judy Haystrand of Westwood conducted CPR on the unconscious, heavily bleeding man when several officers arrived in the downpour, Pontillo said.
These included Sgt. Scott McNiff and Officers Joe Cottone, John Svenda, Greg Dorfman and Samuel Ross Mann.
Dorfman, some may recall, was involved in a New Year’s Day rescue at a local diner.
The Westwood officers took over compressions from the good Samaritan, controlled the severe bleeding and readied a defibrillator, along with other emergency equipment, Pontillo said.
After about 30 thrusts, the man regained some consciousness, the chief said.
Medics arrived by then and took over. They brought him to Hackensack University Medical Center, said Kate Thompson of NJ Transit, the lead agency.
An initial investigation showed that the man was heading east on Washington Avenue at the Broadway intersection when he ducked beneath the downed crossing gate in the pouring rain, apparently stumbled and was struck by a Pascack Valley Line train.
“If not for the actions of these members of the police department, this individual would have died,” Pontillo said.
NJ Transit’s Thompson agreed.
“He was really lucky [to survive],” he said.
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