Remembering a tragedy, 50 years later

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A total of nine firefighters were injured in the accident. The eventual fatalities included William Koch, 57, of 64 Marion Street, Peter Moody, 21, of 41 Marion Street, and Joseph Fisher, 36, of 21 Marion Street, who were all riding on the back step of Engine Company. Also injured, but less seriously was Peter Skeris of 114 Stevenson Street, who was on Tally-Ho and thrown from his truck. All the injured were taken to Mercy Hospital where Koch died upon arrival. Moody and Fisher remained in critical condition. Skeris was later released. Other firefighters injured were treated at the accident scene and sent home.

On May 2, 1963, Moody died from his injuries. Fisher died the following day. In all, three volunteers and a school crossing guard were killed in the line of duty in one of the Village of Lynbrook’s worst tragedies since the village was incorporated in 1912. Only the deaths of five members of the Levy family in a house fire two years before the accident claimed more lives.

In newspaper articles written after the accident the crash was attributed to “the treacherous surface of Peninsula Blvd.” It was also reported that the “road surface was slippery with oil and water.” Accounts further said that Engine Company was late getting out of the firehouse due to engine trouble. The papers reported, “Otherwise, both trucks would never have been in that intersection.” Another newspaper reported that Engine Company had been stopped at Five Corners by a bus that had blocked that intersection. Neither of the fire engines was reported to have been speeding at the time of the accident. The fire call that the two trucks were responding to turned out to be a malfunctioning steam valve on a furnace.

Koch, an employee of Ruppert’s Brewery in Brooklyn, was the secretary of Engine Company, and a member of the VFW after serving with the Navy Seabees in the Pacific during World War II. He left behind a wife and a daughter.

Moody was not married and had only been a volunteer for two years. He was survived by his mother, father, brothers and a sister.

Fisher, an oil burner mechanic, was also a veteran who served in World War II as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne.

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