Connecticut Airport Authority leaders and Gov. Ned Lamont thanked Bradley International Airport employees who were primary responders to the deadly B-17 crash at a luncheon Wednesday.
Seven people onboard were killed and seven others injured when a vintage B-17 plane crashed at the airport on October 2.
Commemorative coins were given to firefighters, operations, and maintenance crews.
Not only did first responders see the unimaginable last month when the vintage plane crashed, but at the luncheon we learned some of the BDL firefighters on duty that morning saw the moments leading up to the vintage plane crash.
“Actually we were standing outside and we watched and I questioned John and asked, ‘why is that aircraft taking off on Romeo?’ And the explosion happened and we just reacted,” said firefighter and EMT Pedro Deleon.
He described their immediate response.
“We got on scene within two minutes of the plane crashing. We didn’t see anything, but just debris and people. I had a body in front of me and two who were being rescued by the Air National Guard.”
“The thing that you always train for, but you don’t want to see in your career and we did,” said firefighter John Leahey.
While community leaders and public safety officials are adamant the fast actions of these first responders helped saved lives, firefighter Michael Rufus explains the nagging feeling that will stay with them.
“In us there will always be a ‘what if.’” He said, “People lost their lives and always in us it will be, ‘what if we could have been there a little faster,’ but we gave our best as we got there as quick we could.”