WEST HAVERSTRAW, NY (PIX11)—48-year-old Kenny Patterson, a volunteer fire captain, cheated death twice in the last year--and now he's dreaming about a trip to the Superbowl to watch his beloved, New York Giants football team take on the formidable New England Patriots for a repeat match-up from 2008.
"Miracles do happen," Patterson told PIX 11 Monday, from his hospital room at the Helen Hayes Rehabilitation Center in West Haverstraw, New York. "It happened to me twice." All Patterson needs now is a ticket!
Last Monday, Patterson was responding to reports of a natural gas leak at a condo development in West Haverstraw, when one of the units exploded, right as Patterson arrived at the door. He only remembers "being driven in the ambulance"--but the blast left him with broken ribs, along with burns to his forehead and left hand. Regarding the fire, Patterson said, "Actually, it burned right through my glove. It didn't burn any fingers or my wrist, though."
A year ago this month, Patterson responded to a fire inside a home that was illegally carved up into single-room units. The partitions blocked his escape from a window. He started running out of oxygen and recalls, "The mask actually sucked into my face." He issued a "May Day" call, and a fellow firefighter found Patterson by using a thermal-imaging camera. As Patterson recalled it, "He scanned me in the room and found me in the far corner of the bedroom."
Regarding his two brushes with death, Patterson said, "I got away with it once. I got away with it again. Somebody's watching me." And he compared the two miracles in his life with the "never say die" New York Giants. "I don't give up on anything with my Giants," Patterson said, as he wore his #10, Eli Manning jersey and the team's NFC Championship cap. "They didn't think the Giants were doing it, and they're doing it. They came into other stadiums, against undefeated teams. They did it. Beat odds. Beat everybody. Took down the Superbowl champs, Green Bay."
Patterson's received a lot of support from his brother firefighters, but one of them, Dave Kryger, played a joke on him this past weekend, before the big NFC game. "I erased the message on the nurse's board, and I put, 'Today is Monday, January 23rd'," Kryger told PIX. "I wrote final score, San Francisco 49ers, 42--New York Giants, 10. I figured when Kenny called me screaming, I'd know he was normal again!" Kryger added, "I was trying to trick him into thinking he missed the whole game and when he woke up, the Giants had lost." The Giants actually won, 20-17, with a final, 3-point kick in overtime.
Patterson didn't fall for the prank. And Sunday night, before his transfer to rehab, he watched the game in his hospital room with his wife, Shari, and their daughters. As Shari remembers it, her husband was "yelling and waking up everybody in the hospital."
Now, the 31-year-veteran of the West Haverstraw Fire Department is gearing up for Superbowl Sunday. He told PIX he will probably watch the game in the firehouse, but his long-time friend, Jeff Cool, is pushing for another miracle to happen. Cool wants Patterson to be at the game in Indianapolis in two weeks. "He bleeds Big Blue," Cool told PIX 11. "I'd love him to be there with the Giants, when they go to the Superbowl. The Giants are a miracle, and I think Kenny should be right there with them. Hopefully, the Giants are listening. He'd bring them a lot of luck."
Stay tuned, football fans. And consider this: Kenny's wife made it to a Superbowl with her parents, when the big game was played in Tampa Bay. Isn't it time Kenny got a chance?