NORTH TONAWANDA — A North Tonawanda girl who was crossing the intersection of Payne Avenue and Wheatfield Street was stuck by a vehicle Thursday morning and sent to the hospital with minor injuries, though one witness cited the quick action of a city employee after the accident.
North Tonawanda Police Capt. Roger Zgolak said the accident took place just after 11 a.m. and left the girl with “superficial injuries,” while no charges were filed against the cyclist or the driver of the vehicle.
But one witness, Gregg Schnitzer, who was waiting in his vehicle for a traffic light to change green near the intersection where the girl was struck, said he saw city employee Joseph Rich jump out of a garbage truck nearby and burst into action, calling 911, attending to the victim and directing traffic.
“I was sitting at the light and I saw the bike go through but there was a vehicle in front of me,” Schnitzer said. “I just heard all kinds of noise and didn’t see the bike on the other side. That’s when I realized something happened I saw some commotion and the guy got out of the vehicle.”
Brad Rowles, superintendent of the department of public works, said he heard a police call come over the city’s dispatch system when the accident happened. He added that in the short time he’s commandeered the DPW he’s noticed that Rich, a motor equipment operator and a long-term city employee, “is the kind of guy who would go out of his way to help someone.”
“He’s really hardworking and dedicated so it doesn’t surprise me that something like that came from him,” Rowles said. “We’re all pubic servants and you’d like to see that response, but Joe would definitely be the first.”
Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.