First responders shaken after tragic Amsterdam accident - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

First responders shaken after tragic Amsterdam accident

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Shyara Concepcion and Tanya Sleight (Family Photo) Shyara Concepcion and Tanya Sleight (Family Photo)
Elijah, Naomi, Matthew (Family Photo) Elijah, Naomi, Matthew (Family Photo)

HAGAMAN, N.Y. -- The Cranesville and Hagaman volunteer firefighters who responded to Sunday's fatal Amsterdam crash that killed two women and one child met last night for a debriefing session. They also had the opportunity to meet with grief counselors to talk about the awful sights and sounds of the accident.

The car's driver, 33-year-old Tanya Sleight and 39-year-old Shyara Concepcion both of Amsterdam died at the scene, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said. One of the three children in the car, 9-year-old Elijah Sleight, died at the hospital Monday.

2-year-old Naomi Sleight and her brother Elijah were airlifted to Albany Medical Center with life-threatening injuries after the crash. Family members tell NEWS10 Naomi suffered some broken bones and injured spleen and Elijah has suffered severe head trauma. Naomi is still listed in critical condition.

A third child, 7-year-old Matthew Sleight, was treated for minor injuries. Family members say he is now staying with his grandmother.

When Montgomery County 911 dispatched the call, Hagaman Fire Chief Don Rekcs was the second rescuer to reach the accident. He says it was the worst he has ever seen.

"It hits you hard…but part of the job is to get a grip and to go forth, and to make the decisions you've got to make, treat the patients you've got to treat," says Rekcs.

Realizing the driver and front-seat passenger could not be saved; rescuers focused their attention on the three children in the backseat. Hagaman firefighter Eric Gieseler worked on the youngest victim, 2-year-old Naomi Sleight.

"I was trying to help manage the airway, keep her - she couldn't talk - keep her crying and make sure she was pushing air through... I tried to look into her eyes and just keep her going. That was just how I stayed focused on her," says Gieseler.

Gieseler says he felt a sense of relief watching the med flight chopper take off with Naomi on board.

The presence of injured children heightened the emotion for many firefighters, especially those who have kids of their own.

"We started looking around and probably 95 percent of the firefighters on scene, they all have children, so it does make a difference. It hits home," said Chief Thomas Champain of the Cranesville Volunteer Fire Department.

In the end, the accident may leave haunting memories but these highly-trained first responders are coping and moving on, ready for the next call, when it comes.

In addition to the Cranesville and Hagaman Volunteer Fire Departments, the Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office responded to the crash.

There has been a fund set up at Citizens Bank for the Sleight family. People can donate at any Citizens Bank by referencing the Christopher Sleight Benefit Fund or by mail to:

Citizens Bank
Attn: Bank by Mail
ROP370
P.O. Box 42006
Providence, RI 02940-2006

Checks made payable to: Christopher Sleight Benefit Fund

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