Firefighter suffers cardiac arrest ahead of clam eating fundraiser in Island Park
A firefighter died over the weekend just ahead of the start of an annual clam eating contest on Sunday.
Island Park fire officials say 38-year-old Capt. Michael Fischer went into cardiac arrest moments after helping fellow firefighters set up for the fundraiser event at Peter's Clam Bar in Island Park.
Flags were lowered at half-staff at the Island Park Fire Department for the firefighter who joined the department in 2013.
A fire chief tells News 12 they had just put up an arch for the fundraiser and were having lunch when Fischer went to the bathroom, came out and then fell to the ground.
First responders say a doctor who was at the event was there in seconds to render aid along with Fischer's fellow firefighters, but he could not be saved.
"It was truly horrific, we've never experienced a line of duty death here in the department before," says Eric Gorton, second assistant chief for the Island Park Fire Department. "It was really traumatizing to some of the younger members, especially the ones that rose up with him."
Gorton says most people at the fundraiser did not know what happened to Fischer as it happened just before the event was about to start and happened in the back of the restaurant
He tells News 12 they went forward with the fundraiser because that is what Fischer would have wanted since all of the money raised was going to 7-month-old Cooper Graham, of Oceanside, for his medical expenses as he fights cancer.
Gorton says a grief counselor is coming to talk to the firefighters about their loss and plans are being made for Fischer's funeral