Dr. Ernest Patti, an Emergency Room physician at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, was home in Larchmont when he got the call.
“There’s been a horrible accident on I-95 and we need you to get down here.”
But his boss made a mistake, saying the accident had happened in Yonkers, and Patti couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t get on the highway in Larchmont or New Rochelle, as all exits were closed.
But he got there, and he and his team got to work on the five survivors, including the bus driver, that were brought to his hospital.
“Many times in the midst of dealing with people with injuries like this, you function on instinct. Then all of a sudden the enormity of these injuries hits you,” he said.
Fifteen people are now dead after the accident, which happened about 5:30 a.m. Saturday just across the Bronx line. The bus was returning to Chinatown from the Mohegan Sun casino.
According to The New York Times, “Some described grisly scenes of mayhem: at least one person decapitated, others maimed, people hanging upside down, victims gashed by flying glass, screaming in the darkness and struggling to get out. Some were thrown out on the ground, others were trapped in a maze of metal.”
Among Patti’s patients was a woman with severe lacerations to to the head and face. “You’re trained in the protocol of treatment,” he said. “But you’re moved by the human beings under all those injuries. My heart goes out to them.” Patti spent two very long days treating patients and talking to families and reporters.
And when he returned home to his house in Larchmont Gardens, where his family, including three children, were asleep, “I sat on the edge of the bed and said a prayer thanking God that my world wasn’t touched by that kind of tragedy. My world was 12 miles away.”