A 33-year-old Brooklyn man pulled a woman out of a Sunday evening, minutes before it burst into flames.
Craig Schum, an artisan bread baker who lived in Bed-Stuy in 2011, said he had been driving home from work at about 5:30 p.m. and had stopped in front of the East Hampton Airport because he saw a protest rally going on and was curious.
That's when the Mooney single-engine, low-wing aircraft took off from East Hampton Airport, but then turned around and crashed in the nearby woods.
Schum, who is spending the summer on Long Island, immediately started running toward the crash.
"I didn't think anything, I saw a lot of noise explosion, and I'm
running," he said.
For Schum, saving the woman was cathartic.
"There was a time in college where a friend of mine was hurt and I hesitated, did that thing where you hope that somebody else will help them. And that's haunted me for 15 years," he said.
He and some friends were cliff jumping, when one of his best friends
belly jumped in and appeared to injure himself.
"He floated to the surface. I could tell that he was really messed up," he said.
One of the women in the group was a lifeguard. "My first thought was,
'Oh my God I hope she saves him.' And then she saved him," he said.
"For 15 years I knew what I would do (in this kind of situation) and
that is hesitate."
But this time around, Schum's instinct was different.
He scaled a 6-foot deer fence—barefoot—and jumped, then ran a
few hundred feet more to the wreckage, where he found a man standing,
covered in blood and in shock, and a woman, sprawled on the ground,
her legs still in the plane. Both doors to the plane were open and the
engine was already on fire, he said.
"The woman was totally unconscious. I was pretty sure she was dead,"
Schum said. "I know you’re not supposed to move somebody because of a
possible neck injury. But I knew the plane was going to burst into
flames, so I made the decision and carried her out."
About two minutes, later, the plane blew up.
Schum and from the wreckage.
They lifted up part of the wire deer fencing and got her under it and
brought her to the roadside.
"I tried to revive her, not in a medical way like CPR or anything,"
Schum said, as she appeared to be breathing. "I held her face and I
was saying her name and telling her everything would be okay. She
started to regain consciousness."
The man, who also had to be helped away from the wreckage too, laid
down next to the woman. Schum said he was looking into her face. "The
image of the two of them . . . like he was saying, 'Be okay. Please be
When ambulance personnel arrived on scene, they had to push Schum away
from the woman. "I didn’t want to leave her," he said.
"I came out covered in her blood." he added. "All I want to do is just
give this woman a hug and know face-to-face that she's OK."
The next day, Schum reflected that the experince was, in a way redemptive.
"I didn't think anything. I just went and did it," he said. "And that kind of like healed something for me."
Schum grew up in Rochester and the Hudson River Valley, went to college in Poughkeepsie and moved to Prospect Lefferts Gardens in 2004, where he currently lives. For six months in 2011 he lived on Halsey Street near Nostrand Avenue.
He's worked at a series of jobs, including editing a literary magazine, and currently works at Levain Bakery in Manhattan. An avid surfer, Schum was working at the bakery's Long Island location for the summer.
Police identified the victims as Stephen Bochter, 51, of Assonet, Mass., and Kim Brillo, both of whom were flown to Stony Brook University Hospital. According to the Department of Media Relations on Monday afternoon, Bochter is in good condition, and Brillo has been discharged.