BOSTON-- Police are hunting for four thugs wearing Yankees baseball caps who attacked a veteran Boston Fire Department commander outside a Charlestown firehouse, leaving him with a broken eye socket and 14 stitches across his forehead.
But the deepest wound Lt. Christopher Corwin suffered in the assault was that his injuries forced him to miss a fellow firefighter's funeral yesterday.
Corwin, 42, was helping a tractor-trailer driver turn around, using the apron of Ladder 9/Engine 32's lot in Sullivan Square around 11:30 p.m. Sunday night, when a dark-colored sedan allegedly tried to race around the truck, almost hitting another firefighter.
"They started to speed up and tried to boot around the truck. There was another firefighter on the other side. I knew they would have wiped him out, so I told them to stop," Corwin said. "The F-bombs started flying. The driver got out of the car and started swinging.
"I got hit, and then the rest of them got out of the backseat and hit me with a weapon," Corwin said. "They laid the boots on me. There was blood everywhere. I couldn't get up. I blacked out."
As his commander lay sprawled on the ground unconscious, the other firefighter, a rookie named Danny Donahoe, jumped into the fracas and started swinging, and the suspects jumped back into their car and sped off.
"We have to be ready for so many different dangerous things that could happen," Donahoe said. "But I never imagined it would be something like this."
Last night, Boston Fire Commissioner Rod Fraser called the attack on Corwin an outrage.
"These firefighters are risking their lives to save people in this city every day, and to me it's almost unbelievable that someone for no reason would beat a fireman unconscious over a traffic delay," Fraser said.
A witness wrote down a partial Massachusetts plate number, 21XG8, and noted that the four suspects were wearing Yankees caps, according to a Boston police report.
Corwin spent the night at Massachusetts General Hospital, forcing him to miss yesterday's funeral Mass for fallen Engine 51 firefighter Dave Middleton, 39, who died of a heart attack last week after battling at least two active fires in Brighton.
Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for firefighters in the United States. "My heart is with Dave Middleton's family," Corwin said. "I'll be fine. I'll make it back to work. He won't."
But Corwin, a father of two, was left disheartened by the attack.
"The fabric of society is completely gone," Corwin said. "There is a total lack of respect for anyone out there. A cop was shot this month, and now a working firefighter is beaten for no reason."
Republished with permission of The Boston Herald.