Firefighter critical after getting hit by bus


December 23, 2005

An off-duty firefighter who was likely bicycling to work because of the transit strike Thursday morning was critically injured in midtown by a private shuttle bus making an illegal turn, authorities said.

Matthew Long, 39, son of state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long, broke both his legs, an arm and his pelvis in the predawn incident, but colleagues said Long's superior condition as a triathlete and marathon runner probably helped him survive. Last year, he participated in a triathlon to raise money for leukemia.

"I ask all New Yorkers to pray for him," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said about the 12-year veteran of the department.

Long was sedated and in critical condition at New York Hospital following surgery, according to Frank Gribbon, spokesman for the FDNY.

"He suffered a lot of internal bleeding," Gribbon said.

Long usually drives to work, though he sometimes takes his bicycle, according to colleagues.

It is likely, they said, that the transit strike played into Long's decision to use his bike Thursday.

Long, who lives near the scene on the East Side, was heading to work at Randall's Island, where he helps train probationary firefighters.

Police said Long was in the right-hand lane of Third Avenue, heading north just past 5:45 a.m., when the bus tried to turn right, from the third lane, onto East 52nd Street.

Long, who was wearing a helmet, crashed into the side of the bus, by the front right tire, police said.

The driver, Bryant Barr, 30, was issued a summons for an improper right turn, police said, noting buses are supposed to be in the far right, or bus, lane.

The bus had no passengers on it but had been hired by the Bear Stearns investment banking firm to shuttle employees during the strike, police said.

Barr is an employee of Allen AME Transportation, which is affiliated with the Greater Allen AME Cathedral, the Jamaica house of worship run by the Rev. Floyd Flake.

Richard Gallo, a lawyer for the bus company, said a witness told his office the firefighter was at fault in the accident. Barr tested negative for alcohol.

Flake, meanwhile, said in a statement that "our prayers are with the individual involved in this incident as well as with his entire family.

"A member of the church will be visiting the family to offer support and I expect to call the family as soon as I have the appropriate information," Flake added.

Long has two brothers who work for the FDNY, Edward and Jim.