A Dorchester man pulled off William T. Morrissey Boulevard on the way home from an overnight shift one Sunday morning in February for a quick pit stop. He said he wanted to fill up his tank and pick up some last-minute groceries for a big birthday breakfast he was planning for his wife.
“I figured, I’ll just stop off now so I don’t have to worry about it later,” said Walter “Buddy” Blinn. “And then ‘Bam!’”
Blinn, 48, had just lifted the gas nozzle at the Citgo when an elderly woman rammed her vehicle into his, propelling it forward and leaving Blinn pinned against a protective railing.
“It happened so fast I didn’t know what was going on,” said Blinn. “One minute I’m standing, the next my legs are trapped and I’m hanging upside-down over this rail.”
Blinn said he didn’t remember much about the next few minutes — he was panicked and dizzy from blood loss. But he does remember seeing a young woman snapping pictures of him on her phone.
“I screamed ‘Call 911!’ and she just stood there,” he said. “I was so scared. I thought I was going to die.”
But almost as quickly as this morbid thought came, help arrived. Carollynne Post and Domenic Birrittieri, both of Dorchester, were near the gas station and jumped in to help.
Post, 50, said she was walking to work when a friend told her what was going on. She’s a former Marine and, she said, her old instincts kicked in instantly.
Post ran toward Blinn, took the belt off of her coat and fashioned a tourniquet. She grabbed Blinn’s head and reassured him.
“I asked her, ‘Am I dying?’” said Blinn. “And she said, ‘No, honey, you’re just having a bad day.”
Birrittieri, 58, took charge of the tourniquet while Post held on to Blinn to keep him from further straining his legs. The pair supported him until firefighters arrived and extricated him about a half hour later.
Police said this may have saved his life. On Monday, Boston police presented Birrittieri and Post with plaques of appreciation at a Clam Point Civic Association meeting.
“We’re fortunate to have a neighborhood filled with great people who care and look out for one another on a daily basis. People helping people is the key to any strong community,” said Captain Richard Sexton in a statement. “And, thanks to Carollynne and Dominic, we have one of the best communities in the city.”
Birrittieri and Post were both touched by the gesture, but said the ceremony was unnecessary.
“That’s how it’s supposed to be,” said Post. “We’re all human beings. We’re here to help each other.”
Post and Blinn had met after the accident, but this was the first time Birrittieri and Blinn had seen each other since that day.
“I saw him stand up and I was shocked,” said Birrittieri. “The way he was that day I wasn’t sure he’d ever walk again.”
Blinn suffered serious injuries — one of his legs was broken in five places, and the other was badly mangled by the car. But through his many surgeries, physical therapy sessions, and doctors’ visits, he said, he’s been up-beat.
“My faith in humanity is restored. How could it not be?” he said. “I can never thank them enough. They saved me when they could’ve turned their backs.”Jacqueline Tempera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter @jacktemp