Passaic man injured by falling tree

4 12 2007

By DENISA R. SUPERVILLE and MEREDITH MANDELL
HERALD NEWS

PASSAIC — A rabbi didn’t think twice about interrupting prayer to rush to help a man struck on Katherine Avenue Monday by branches of a fallen 40-foot tree.

“I don’t understand why people shouldn’t help another human being,” Rabbi Yehoshua Kaganoff said. He was praying in a home on Katherine Avenue shortly after 2 p.m. when the tree came crashing down.

“I don’t understand that. I really don’t,” he said. “If a person is hurt, why shouldn’t we help them? It’s beyond me that someone should just walk away.”

The injured man, whom police identified as Thomas Painter, 59, suffered a dislocated left shoulder and a cut to the back of the head, according to Detective Andrew White of the Passaic Police Department. Painter, who was conscious at the scene, was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital and listed in stable condition, White said Monday.

Police said Painter was standing outside of his silver 2003 Toyota Camry when he was struck by one of the tree’s branches. The car sustained extensive damage to the rear windshield, and part of the roof caved in as a result.

Kaganoff, who worked as an ambulance technician in New York City about 20 years ago, and others inside the house rushed to the street thinking that a car or house had been damaged by the fallen tree. Then Kaganoff noticed Painter and the blood on the street, he said.

“When I saw the guy, I thought the worst,” said Yehuda de Sa, a rabbinical student who saw the tree fall while he was praying. “It was a huge tree. The guy was really, really fortunate.”

Kaganoff used his medical training to assist Painter until emergency medical technicians arrived, he said, adding that he stabilized Painter’s head wound. Another neighbor, Sharone Perlman, said she heard a loud “earth-shattering boom” while sitting at her computer.

“It was very terrifying,” said Perlman, who dialed 911.

Later, de Sa said, Perlman brought blankets and a pillow to keep Painter warm and comfortable. Kaganoff asked de Sa to go inside the house to fetch a first aid kit.

The accident involving Painter came as the National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for much of the tri-state area, including Passaic County and North Jersey. The advisory was expected to continue until 7 a.m. Tuesday. Advisories are issued when sustained winds of between 31 and 39 miles per hour or gusts of more than 45 miles per hour are possible, according to the National Weather Service.

These winds are “certainly strong enough to tear down some tree limbs, certainly strong enough to blow around some lightweight and loose objects like garbage lids,” Gary Conte a National Weather Service in Upton, N.Y.

Although the winds are expected to subside on Tuesday, it will still be a windy day, Conte said.

High winds can fell trees and down power lines, which could result in injury and even death. Driving also becomes dangerous, especially for trucks and other large vehicles, authorities say.

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2 responses

17 01 2008
shlomo

the rabbi saved his life.

how is thomas doing? I understand he suffered cervical spinal injuries and had surgery and therapy on his neck.

13 10 2009
SR

And two years later, the City is still neglecting their dead trees!

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