Greenport firefighter describes rescue efforts after fiery crash

Greenport firefighter describes rescue efforts at crash scene

Good Samaritans helped a driver after a fiery crash early Monday evening in Greenport, Columbia County. He described the first moments at the scene.

Busy Route 23 in Greenport bears the scars of the fatal, fiery crash Monday evening.

A tail light is still caught high up in a tree.

Police say at about 5:45 p.m., David Warfield, 57, of Hudson went out into the opposite lane, passing cars in a no-passing zone, then ended up coming back where he collided with another car, and both vehicles burst into flames.

Greenport volunteer firefighter Gary Mazzacano lives nearby. He rushed to the scene.

“It was a horrific, tragic accident to say it simply,” he said.

He says two Good Samaritans had pulled the other driver, Michelle Burnham, 59, of Delanson, out of her car.

Mazzacano checked on her, then tried to get to the pickup driver.

“By the time I got over there, I was pushed back by tremendous heat and flames and explosions going on,” he said.

Mazzacano is a former New York State Police BCI investigator with decades in the fire service.

“If we’re not out here to do it, who’s going to do it?”

The community relies on volunteer firefighters and more are needed.

“Very proud of everybody that responded to the call because we knew it was a bad call,” said Greenport Fire Chief John Onufrychuk.

“Very thankful for the work that he did, for stopping and helping one of the victims, and also for trying to get the other gentleman out of the car, said New York State Police Livingston BCI Senior Investigator Abdul Weed. “So very appreciative of the Greenport Fire Department and the Greenport Rescue Squad.”

The chief and police also praised the Good Samaritans.

“A lot of time the response time to get to some of these calls does take a while, so we’re very happy that he stopped and stayed and helped this victim until the State Police and the fire department showed up,” Weed said.

Mazzacano has spent his life serving the community.

“I hope she realizes that help was there and that was of some comfort to her,” he said of the victim.

Police say Burnham has since been transferred to a hospital in Syracuse, where she is listed in critical condition.