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Giant chunk of ice seriously injures Southtowns volunteer firefighter

A veteran Southtowns volunteer firefighter suffered serious injury earlier this week when he was struck by ice falling off a building in the town of Eden.

Anthony Leonard Sr., 59, who served as a captain with the North Evans Volunteer Fire Company and remains active with the company and in Eden, reportedly suffered numerous broken bones in the incident Tuesday.

“He’s looking at a lengthy recovery,” said Sheri Threlkeld, a family friend and co-worker of Leonard at the Hamburg Walmart, who established a website to help raise money to support Leonard’s family.

Threlkeld said Leonard was on his way to breakfast with his wife Tuesday morning when a 400-pound piece of ice came off a South Main Street building with force estimated to be one ton.

“It came off in two pieces,” Threlkeld said.

The first massive ice chunk struck Leonard’s leg, pinning it against a car he was about to get into, she said, and the second one came down on Leonard’s side and back, resulting in broken ribs.

Leonard was treated by some of the same firefighters and paramedics he responds with to calls. He was rushed to the Erie County Medical Center.

His ventilator was removed Wednesday and Leonard is conscious, is talking with family and friends and is expected to make a full, albeit lengthy, recovery.

“He’s talking,” said Threlkeld, who visited Leonard in the hospital Thursday. “He’s in a lot of pain.”

Leonard works in electronics sales at the Southwestern Boulevard Walmart.

“He’s a very friendly guy personally, a very outgoing guy,” Threlkeld said. “He has a big heart and he’s very compassionate.”

On the website she set up to help support Leonard’s family, Threlkeld said the accident leaves Leonard “unable to work and support his family and activities as a volunteer fireman.”

“Another surgery is scheduled this weekend,” Threlkeld wrote. “His right leg has multiple breaks along with numerous broken ribs. Keep him in your prayers please. As stated all monies donated will go to any medical costs incurred from his hospitalization and also for expenses while being unable to work. Thank you so much for your support!”

The Leonard family is active in area firefighting, according to an Internet post by Leonard’s son, Tony Jr., who listed about two dozen family members over four generations, including his father and himself, who have volunteered in the fire service.

Besides his service in North Evans, Leonard Sr. also served as an officer in a Broward County, Fla., fire and rescue squad and is a retired chief petty officer first-class of the U.S. Coast Guard, according to the post.

“Dad’s got a long road ahead, and a lot of expenses we can not afford over this time,” his son further wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday evening.

Donations can be made by visiting the gofundme website set up by Threlkeld at: http://www.gofundme.com/ojqjh8.

The Highland Hose Company in Derby is also coordinating donations of cash, food and “normal household items” for Leonard’s family.

email: tpignataro@buffnews.com