Dom Birrittieri is a creature of habit. And that, it turns out, is a very good thing for another Dorchester man who almost lost his leg – and nearly his life – in a freak accident last February.
Every morning, Dom, a 58-year-old telephone technician from Everett Street, hops in his van and drives three blocks to the Citgo station at Puritan Plaza to buy his daily newspaper. He’s usually there around 7:30, and often he spends a few extra minutes chatting up acquaintances and the owner, who is a friend.
On this particular Saturday morning, Dom was standing at the side of the gas station when he heard a boom. He turned, expecting to see the remnants of a pretty good fender-bender out on Morrissey Boulevard; instead, he saw a car with one tire up on the curb by the pumps— where it definitely should not have been— just inches from one of the tanks.
Then he heard the screaming.
Walter “Buddy” Blinn, who works overnight at the Stop & Shop on Morrissey, had been minding his own business and pumping gas when a car driven by an elderly woman plowed into the car next to him— ramming it forward and pinning Buddy against the U-shaped barrier meant to protect the pumps from such mishaps.
Buddy clearly was in a lot of pain and Dom and another witness — Carollynne Post – sprang into action. Carollynne folded up her jacket to comfort Buddy’s head and Birrittieri then used the belt on her jacket to fashion a tourniquet to stop the massive flow of blood from Buddy’s grievously injured leg.
“He was worried that he was going to bleed to death,” recalls Dom, who used his hands to tighten the belt and stanch the blood flow. He kept up the pressure for what seemed to him like half an hour— although it was not that long before Boston Fire and EMT crews arrived to take over.
The quick response proved critical to Buddy’s survival and his ongoing recovery. Later, Dom tried to find out what happened to Buddy— whom he had not met before the accident — but was frustrated in his attempts to locate him. Then, out of the blue, Buddy called him last week to thank him. Now out of the hospital and moving around of crutches, Buddy passed along his good news— he will keep his legs. The top-notch team at Boston Medical Center had made sure of that.
On Tuesday night, Buddy used those legs and his crutches to come to the monthly meeting of the Clam Point Civic Association of which Dom’s 87-year-old mom is a longtime member. Dom typically skips the meetings, but he got a call from the Boston Police asking him to show up for this one. Buddy Blinn’s family was there to say thanks. So was Captain Richard Sexton, who presented Dom and Carollynne with framed certificates saluting their heroic actions.
For his part, Dom is pleased that his morning ritual turned out to be a blessing for a fellow lifetime Dorchester guy. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw him walking on Tuesday,” he said. “I mean he’s on crutches, but still … It’s a miracle.”
– Bill Forry