Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Off-duty firefighter critical after attack by thugs

From the Daily News by Jonathan Lemire:

An off-duty firefighter was in critical condition Monday night after he was savagely beaten while defending his girlfriend in the Staten Island ferry terminal, police said.

Matthew Dugan, 34, underwent emergency surgery at the New York Downtown Hospital to relieve swelling on the brain he suffered after he was pummeled by three assailants, officials said.

"We're hoping he's going to be okay," said a firefighter at the hospital late yesterday who asked that his name not be used. "He's out of surgery."

Investigators were reviewing surveillance video that showed two men and a woman running from the terminal in the moments after the brawl, police said.

Dugan, who is assigned to Ladder 15 near the South Street Seaport, had been drinking with his girlfriend at a lower Manhattan bar before they walked to the terminal to catch the 1:30 a.m. ferry to Staten Island, the sources said.

Though the moments immediately preceding the fight remain under investigation, witnesses told cops that Dugan's girlfriend tripped and fell, and things heated up when the three passersby started laughing, sources said.

Dugan, who has been with the FDNY for three years, and the trio then exchanged words, and the fight quickly escalated, sources said.

The firefighter was knocked to the ground and his attackers continued to punch and kick him, witnesses told police.

Though Dugan did not lose consciousness, he was bleeding heavily from his face and mouth, witnesses said.

It was not immediately clear who threw the first punch, sources said. It was also not known if anything was taken from Dugan or his girlfriend.

A steady stream of firefighters visited Dugan at the hospital, where he was resting in the intensive care unit late yesterday.

Dugan's girlfriend was not injured during the fight.


With Kerry Burke

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