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Thread: Firefighter dies rushing to help

  1. #1
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    Firefighter dies rushing to help

    Firefighter dies rushing to help

    (Original publication: December 15, 2003)

    A Congers firefighter died over the weekend after he apparently slipped from a ladder and struck his head as he responded to a fire alarm.

    Kathryn Wohl called 911, and Clarkstown Police and emergency services workers responded at 2:55 p.m. He was airlifted from Rockland Lake's north parking lot by to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.

    By 3:15 p.m., the fire department had been called to set up a landing zone, Wren said. "It was a very quick response by police and emergency personnel," Wren said. Wohl died Saturday night.

    Wohl was a 34-year veteran of the department whose sons, John and George III, are volunteers for the Congers department. His father also was a volunteer and his brother, Chris Wohl, is a Congers fire commissioner. His wife, Kathryn, is active in the department's Ladies Auxiliary.

    "For three decades, George Wohl served the people of his hometown, bringing a smile to the faces of everyone he came across," Congers Fire Chief Phil Leto said yesterday. "He was always available to help out any time we asked, and we will miss him tremendously."

    So many members of the family were in the department, a common joke among firefighters was the Congers firehouse had "10 Wohls and one roof."

    "He had two families, the family he was born into and the fire department," Wren said last night. "They're all pulling together now."

    Wohl also was an electrician with Local 363 and an amateur historian. He collected postcards depicting Congers at the turn of the 20th century. He was the fire company's historian. He knew the history of just about every building in Congers and was a railroad buff, his fellow firefighters recalled.

    "The Congers Fire Department has lost an invaluable member of its ranks," said Congers Fire Department President Frank Voce. "George was always a friendly face around the firehouse who was always willing to help his brother firefighters and the community he so loved."

    The 2:54 p.m. alarm that Wohl heard was false, from an apparent alarm malfunction.

    He and Kathryn Barry married 30 years ago. Their son John lives in Congers and George III lives in Highland Mills. Wohl is also survived by a sister, Barbara Sharp, Elma, N.Y. His parents, George O. and Elaine Kern Wohl, are deceased.

    Calling hours are from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at T.J. McGowan Funeral Home in Congers. The funeral is at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Paul's Church in Congers. Burial follows at Gethsemane Cemetery in Rockland Lake. A firematic service is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday at McGowan Funeral Home.

  2. #2
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    Congers firefighters pay respects to 4th fallen brother

    Congers firefighters pay respects to 4th fallen brother

    (Original publication: December 19, 2003)

    Congers volunteer firefighters have had a tough year.

    The department coped last week with the death of 34-year member George Wohl, the fourth department volunteer to die this year.

    Wohl, 59, was putting up Christmas decorations Saturday afternoon at his home when the department's fire alarm sounded. He called to his wife, Kathryn, that he would be responding. She then heard a loud noise, went outside and saw him on the ground.

    He was airlifted to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla by helicopter and died there later that night from head injuries. The 2:54 p.m. alarm Wohl heard was false, an apparent alarm malfunction.

    The department also was shocked Nov. 16 when life member and fire police Capt. Robert Sampogna, 68, died at home.

    On Sept. 26, Vincent Magnatta, a former Congers fire chief and 57-year member, died at his home in Florida. He was 80.

    And on Aug. 9, Alert Ladder and Engine Co. past president John Van Housen died. He was 58 and a life member.

    "The guys are holding up OK," Congers Fire Chief Philip Leto said. "Some of them, the younger guys really didn't know, but George, Bob and Van Housen were very active and around the firehouse all the time. They miss them all equally."

    Wohl is the third member of his department to die in the line of duty. On Nov. 2, 1987, firefighter George O. Sandfield, 70, suffered a heart attack in the firehouse after responding to a call to a gas leak. He was chief in 1956-57 and a 44-year member. On Nov. 7, 1993, assistant chief Walter Augustyn, 60, died after a fire. He was a life member and past chief.

    Leto has been a member for 15 years and chief since January 2002. His two-year term is up Dec. 31.

    "This is the last few weeks, and I can't say I'll be happy to see it over," Leto said. "But it has been a rough year."

    Last night, hundreds of uniformed volunteers gathered at TJ McGowan Sons Funeral Home in Congers to honor Wohl.

    "One thing that really hit me was years ago, George's father was active in the department and he ran a carnival here at the firehouse," Leto said. "We haven't had one since I joined and, every year since, George said we should have a carnival. Well, I finally scheduled one for next July 4th weekend, and George won't be here to enjoy it. But I'm going to dedicate it to George in some way."

    Mass will be celebrated for Wohl at 10 a.m. today at St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church, 82 Lake Road in Congers. The funeral procession will include firetrucks from Congers and around the county.

    "We had an old-timers dinner Nov. 8, and George and Robert both made it," Leto said. "A week later, Robert was dead. That's why you have to do these things. You never know how long you have."

    Send e-mail to John Kryger

  3. #3
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002
    Wohl, George

    Age: 59
    Cause of Death: Fell or Jumped
    Rank: Firefighter
    Nature of Death: Internal Trauma
    Status: Volunteer
    Emergency Duty: Yes
    Incident Date: 12/13/2003
    Duty Type: Responding/Returning from Alarm
    Incident Time: 14:55
    Activity Type: Other
    Death Date: 12/13/2003
    Fixed Prop. Use: Residential

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Congers Fire Department
    64 Lake Road
    Congers , New York 10920
    Chief: Phillip Leto

    Initial Summary:
    Firefighter Wohl was working on the outside of his residence near the top of a ladder (hanging holiday decorations) when he received a fire alert. While descending from the ladder he fell and received severe head and neck injuries killing him.

    Memorial Fund Info:
    No information available.

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