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Cyclist, hit by minivan, is given key aid by 3 passers-by

A 48-year-old Wheatfield bicyclist was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was struck and seriously injured by a motorist Tuesday morning.

Thankfully, three others were in the right place at the right time.

A nurse, a firefighter and a mail carrier stopped to give aid to Curtis J. Senf, of Steig Road, shortly after he was struck while riding south at 7:30 a.m. on Niagara Falls Boulevard by a northbound minivan as the driver, Christopher Steggs, 19, of Grand Island, made a left turn into the parking lot of the Scottish Inn.

"The outcome would have been much different if people didn't stop and take an active role," Niagara County Sheriff's Capt. Gregory T. Schuey told The Buffalo News.

Fortunately, Senf also was wearing a helmet, Schuey said.

After the incident, Senf was lying unresponsive on the shoulder of the roadway when three Wheatfield residents, all on their way to work, got out of their cars: Bergholz Volunteer Assistant Fire Chief Mark R. Stevens, pediatric nurse practitioner Denise M. Piechowski and mail carrier Barry W. Eleey. The three immediately began performing CPR as they waited for rescue crews and a Mercy Flight helicopter to arrive.

Stevens is a third-generation firefighter, a volunteer for the last 13 years and an emergency medical technician with 12 years of experience. He said he happened to be on the scene Tuesday because he was out on a call with the department earlier in the morning and decided to stay up and leave for his M&T Bank job 15 to 20 minutes early. He said he keeps a fully stocked medical bag in his car, as well as emergency oxygen.

Stevens said the three who stopped to help almost lost Senf when the bicyclist stopped breathing.

"But everything worked in sequence the way it should. Everything clicked," he said. "It was 100 percent working together as a group. Without them, I don't know what the outcome would have been. Someone there was able to start CPR while I got out a bag mask right away."

Senf was flown to Erie County Medical Center, where he was listed in guarded condition in the intensive-care trauma unit late Tuesday.

While thankful for the rescuers, the sheriff's captain said he was disappointed with how many people didn't even bother to slow down. Schuey said Niagara Falls Boulevard was busy with rush hour traffic when Steggs tried to turn into the parking lot.

"He was northbound in the center median waiting to turn left into the Scottish Inn parking lot," Schuey said. "The two southbound lanes stopped to open up a spot for him so he could slide in and turn. As he made his left hand turn, he doesn't realize that there is a bicyclist riding up on the left-hand shoulder heading southbound. The bicyclist then hits the side of his minivan."

Schuey described what occurred as "an accident" and said deputies believe that Steggs was unable to see Senf coming up on the shoulder. An investigation into the incident was continuing.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com