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Fatal fall: Bravest plummets to death while responding to crash on Mill Basin Bridge

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A firefighter plunged to his death on Jan. 6 while trying to save the victims of a car crash on the Belt Parkway’s new Mill Basin Bridge.

New York’s Bravest Steven Pollard — who served as a probationary firefighter with Canarsie’s Ladder Company 170 — took his fatal fall just after 10 pm, when his crew rushed to the scene of the two-car collision on the span near Floyd Bennett Field, according to the Fire Department.

Pollard, a 30-year-old Marine Parker, plummeted 52 feet after slipping through a three-foot gap in the bridge, which he tried to cross from its Bay Ridge–bound side in order to help two men injured in the crash on the span’s Queens-bound side.

Following his fall, paramedics rushed the firefighter to Kings County Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.

And on Monday, Mayor DeBlasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro mourned the young hero, whose death they called especially tragic because it occurred as he approached just two years on the job.

“Pollard just started out, only a year and a half as a member of the FDNY,” DeBlasio said during a press conference at the hospital.

The cars collided after one of the two drivers lost control of his four-wheeler on black ice, hit the parkway’s guard rail, flipped over, and hit the other vehicle, according to a Police Department spokeswoman.

Both drivers sustained non-life threatening injuries, and responders brought one to Brookdale Hospital, while the other sought treatment at Mount Sinai Hospital, the spokeswoman said.

The new Mill Basin Bridge recently opened to traffic after years of construction, as part of a $365-million federal- and city-funded project to rebuild the seven spans linking Brooklyn to Queens’s John F. Kennedy Airport, which began in 2009. Its 1940-built predecessor of the same name is set to be completely demolished by the end of the year, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the replacement project.

There was ongoing construction on the bridge at the time of Pollard’s death, and the Fire Department is looking into whether that work played into the incident, according to Nigro.

“There is construction in that area. So we will find out if that was a factor,” he said.

Nigro also expressed condolences for Pollard’s family, some of whom served the city alongside their fallen kin, including his father Ray — who spent 30 years with Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Ladder Company 102 before retiring — and his brother Ray Jr., a current member of Sunset Park’s Ladder Company 114.

“All we can do as a department is stand beside the family and give them whatever support we can, and ask for the prayers of everyone in this city for his father, retired firefighter Ray Pollard, his brother Ray Jr., and for their mom and the rest of their extended family for this terrible loss,” the commissioner said.

And leaders of a local do-good organization that assists families of first responders killed in the line of duty pledged to donate $25,000 to Pollard’s next of kin in honor of his and his relatives’ service.

“Steven Pollard comes from a family of firefighters who served and continue to serve this city so well. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones,” said Rachel Trotta, a rep for the NY Police & Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund. “We will never forget Steven’s bravery and sacrifice.”

Pollard’s death came just weeks after another firefighter died on the Belt Parkway. Last month, cops cuffed a man for allegedly killing off-duty Coney Island firefighter Faizal Coto amid an apparent bout of deadly road rage after the two collided while merging onto the road, according to officials.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@schnepsmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Updated 5:34 pm, January 9, 2019
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