Richard Glaser, an IT professional staff manager at SUNY Stony Brook HSC, is recuperating after neck surgery.
But wait, that’s not really the core of the story.
Glaser’s scheduled surgery in January took place just three days after he saved a student’s life when her car crashed and then burst into flames.
Wait. That’s amazing — but it’s still not the whole story, either.
Glaser, a member of the SUNY higher-education union United University Professions, had surgery to fix damage to his neck from a serious motorcycle accident he was in last June, when a Good Samaritan helped save his life.
Both he and the student whom he saved in January have been treated at the Trauma One hospital, Stony Brook Health Science Center, where Glaser works.
If this is the circle of life, then this Long Island resident should be spinning by now.
In January, Glaser was working a bit late to make sure everything was in order for his pending surgical leave. While driving home on back roads that rainy evening, he glanced out his side window and saw a car off the side of the road.
“I thought I saw a flame,” he said.
He backed up to maneuver his truck down a big hill and through a fence of the St. George Golf Course in Setauket. The car he’d seen had gone down a hill and hit a shack where they serve food, he said.
“I looked into the car and didn’t see anyone,” he said. Then he spotted a young woman, dazed.
He asked her if anyone else was in the car. She said no. Glaser said she had blood coming from her head.
“She was very incoherent,” he said. She was standing on a deck attached to the shack, walking in circles, and Glaser knew he had to act fast.
“I grabbed her arm and moved her away from the car and the next thing I knew the car was up in flames. Then the building was on fire,” he said.
Even though his truck was about 60 yards away, he said there was so much smoke he couldn’t tell what direction his vehicle was in.
He led her blindly through the smoke, got her in the truck and called 911.
“She was injured badly,” he said.
Later, he had to clean blood out of his truck.
Glaser waited a few days to go see her in the hospital, and said that the young woman’s mother gave him a big hug. “She was so happy.”
Glaser’s family knows the feeling. Seven months ago, a Good Samaritan helped saved him.
On a sunny day last June, he was riding his 2004 Harley Davidson on the busy Long Island Expressway to see his son, a SUNY Oswego college student, play baseball in a men’s league in Riverhead. Then the world went black.
“I was hit from behind but I don’t remember,” Glaser said. “My motorcycle was embedded in the front of his truck.”
When he came to, someone was putting a collar around his neck, and washing out the road rash that was all over him.
“He was keeping me calm... waiting for the ambulance,” Glaser said. “I never knew who he was.”
Glaser’s injuries were so traumatic he was taken by helicopter to Stony Brook HSC, where he was treated for four broken ribs, four fractured vertebrae, a fractured right scapular, and a lacerated liver. He spent five days in the ICU.
His body was like a connect-the-dots drawing, from injury to injury.
After being out of work for about six weeks, he returned to his job on the sprawling campus. The west side is where students attend classes, and the east side is the hospital. Glaser manages an administrative group that maintains all of the in-house databases.
“Apps can stay up and running 24-7,” said Glaser, who returned to work a hero following his surgery.
“He did something really special. He had the opportunity to pay it back,” said Carol Gizzi, UUP chapter president for Stony Brook HSC. “I even saw it myself when I was going home, across the golf course. It was really blazing.”
Gizzi, who leads a 5,000-member chapter at Stony Brook HSC, including about 450 retirees, said she has known Glaser a long time. She used to work in operating systems as well.
“When we heard about his motorcycle accident we were very concerned,” Gizzi said.
Glaser is hopeful that with all the publicity he’s received from being a Good Samaritan, the Samaritan who helped him will recognize Glaser and come forward. This man wants to say thank you.
Glaser went to see the injured young woman a second time in the hospital, and gave her a magnet his colleagues had given him after his own accident. It reads, “I do my own stunts.”
He told her that now it is her turn to pay it forward.