BARBARELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corp board president Kim Porkorny (center) and vice president Joe Sokoloski (far left) accepted donation s from ‘Heidi’s Helping Angels’ honoree members (from left) June and John Behr and president Jim Stark Tuesday afternoon.
Former Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps chief Ron Rowe is back home recovering after being airlifted from the scene of a car accident earlier this month.
But while the 47-year-old faces a long road to recovery, ambulance volunteers, fire departments, neighbors and friends have rallied to help his family through the tough times, raising more than $2,000 since the crash.
The fundraiser just received its largest donation yet from a foundation set up in memory of a Riverhead volunteer who was killed in an ambulance accident seven years ago. Heidi’s Helping Angels Inc. donated $500 Tuesday afternoon to the effort to help Mr. Rowe and his 22-year-old daughter, Alyssa, who was also injured in the crash.
The Rowes were hospitalized after their pickup truck smashed into the back of a delivery truck on Middle Country Road on July 6.
According to police, the two were driving westbound in a black Chevrolet Silverado about 5 p.m. when they crashed into a Peter’s Fruit Company truck driven by Edward Eastman of Mastic, which was stopped in the road trying to make a left turn.
Mr. Eastman was not hurt.
Riverhead firefighters had to cut away the truck’s roof and door to remove the victims, said police Sgt. Tim Palmer.
Mr. Rowe, a volunteer with the corps for more than 20 years who had also served as board president, was airlifted to Stony Brook University Medical Center, while his daughter was taken by ambulance to the same hospital.
Ms. Rowe, a lieutenant in the corps, was released from the hospital and is still on crutches.
She marched, albeit on a medical bed, with her fellow ambulance volunteers during the Jamesport Fire Department parade last week.
It is unknown how long Mr. Rowe will be recovering from his injuries, said current corps board president Kim Pokorny, adding that he must eat through a syringe after he underwent surgery to repair his face.
Heidi’s Helping Angels was founded in memory of Heidi Behr, a 23-year-old single mother and ambulance volunteer who was killed on the job when the ambulance she was in struck a tree in Aquebogue during a call in 2005.
Another ambulance worker, William Stone, also died in the crash.
The organization normally gives thousands of dollars in scholarships to graduating seniors who volunteer for community service, said president and former Riverhead supervisor Jim Stark. But the group quickly decided that donating to the Rowes fund was the right thing to do.
“It spread very quickly among our board of directors,” Mr. Stark said. “I got responses within five minutes from all seven of them: ‘No problem.’
“Everyone felt so strongly about giving back to those who gave back to us.”
Mr. Stark said it’s moments like the Behr tragedy or the Rowes’ accident that remind the community just how much volunteers in the ambulance corps and fire department sacrifice for others.
“I think we take a lot of things for granted,” he said. “The fire department, the ambulance corps, they’ll always be there for us.”
It’s not just Heidi’s Helping Angels who have donated. According to the fundraiser’s website, Riverhead Fire Department dispatchers, Jamesport Fire Department volunteers and others have donated hundreds of dollars to the cause.
Visit http://www.gofundme.com/Rally-For-Ronnie to donate.
Friends will also holding a car wash to benefit the family this Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Chase Bank near Walmart on Route 58.