MAYFIELD — A veteran Gloversville firefighter and his long-time girlfriend sustained severe injuries in a motorcycle-car crash late Friday night in Mayfield, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said.
Brandon Lehr of Mayfield, a captain with the Gloversville Fire Department, and his girlfriend, Rachel Ortega, suffered what the sheriff’s office described as “severe” injuries in the crash, which was reported to the county communications center at 10:19 p.m. Friday. Both were taken to Albany Medical Center by helicopter, where they continued to undergo treatment Saturday.
The crash occurred at the intersection of state Route 30A and County Highway 154 in Mayfield.
Deputies arriving on the scene located a motorcycle on Route 30A with significant damage, and a man and woman later identified as Lehr and Ortega lying in the road with severe injuries after being thrown from the motorcycle.
A sedan nearby on Highway 154 had heavy damage to the passenger-side door and front right quarter-panel. The driver, identified on Saturday as Michael Telfer, 47, of Mayfield, was uninjured.
Sheriff Richard Giardino said the crash remains under investigation, with charges pending. He said preliminary findings are that Telfer may have been intoxicated, and that while southound on Route 30A he made a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle operated by Lehr.
Lehr is well-known in the Mayfield community and is respected as both a professional and a volunteer firefighter. “He’s one of those guys for whom it’s not just a job, it’s a passion,” Giardino said.
The sheriff said he’s known Lehr, who will turn 45 on Sunday, his whole life. Both have been volunteer firefighters in the small town of Mayfield, in addition to being distantly related through marriage. Lehr has two sons, Giardino said.
Giardino said Lehr, a Mayfield native, suffered multiple facial fractures, a severe leg fracture, and internal injuries. On Saturday, Giardino said Lehr was in the intensive care unit, awaiting surgery.
“He’s very well-respected in the volunteer service and also in the professional fire department,” Giardino said. “It’s a small community, and everybody’s pulling for him. Everybody knows him and likes him. The community is praying for him.”
Ortega, who suffered severe injuries but was not as badly hurt as Lehr, is a nurse at Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville.
Gloversville Fire Chief Thomas Groff said Lehr has been with the Gloversville department about 15 years, working his way up through the ranks to investigator and now captain. As a volunteer, he was formerly an assistant chief in Mayfield.
“He’s an excellent firefighter, very dedicated,” Groff said. “He takes good care of himself. He’s a very skilled firefighter…We’re pulling for him, for sure.”
Groff added that he considers motorcycles dangerous, and said motorists, whether intoxicated or not, sometimes don’t see them, leading to crashes.
The agencies assisting at the crash scene included the Mayfield Volunteer Fire Department, the GAVAC ambulance, state police, the state police accident reconstruction unit, Fulton County Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Santamaria, and county Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Mark Souza.