Brandon Lehr, the veteran Gloversville firefighter severely injured in a motorcycle-car crash Friday night, remained in a medically induced coma Sunday.
Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino said Brandon Lehr and his girlfriend, Rachel Ortega, were both injured in the crash that occurred at the intersection of state Route 30A and County Highway 154 in Mayfield.
“Both have had surgeries and there will be another round of surgeries this week,” Giardino said. “He’s still in an induced coma. She is conscious.”
Lehr, of Mayfield, a captain with the Gloversville Fire Department, and Ortega suffered what the Fulton County 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.
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.
Giardino said the crash remains under investigation. He said preliminary findings are that Telfer may have been intoxicated, and that while southbound on Route 30A he made a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle operated by Lehr.
On Sunday Giardino said his office is waiting for a formal New York state Police report and more information about the status of the two injured people before charging Telfer.
“He will be charged with felonies,” Giardino said.
Sunday was Brandon Lehr’s 45th birthday, as well as Father’s Day.
Brandon’s son Evan Lehr has organized a gofundme.com page titled “Bad Motorcycle Accident, severe injuries.” The page had raised $28,590 of its $45,000 goal, from 439 donors, as of Sunday night.
Evan Lehr described the severity of the injuries to his father and Ortega in a statement on the gofundme page.
“I’m trying to raise money to help pay for the bills and just help them out, both of them broke both legs and arms, my dad broke his jaw and his girlfriend broke her pelvis with internal bleeding,” wrote Evan Lehr. “He also has more going on but we [can’t] find out until he is stable.”
Brandon 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 Brandon Lehr his whole life. Both have been volunteer firefighters in the small town of Mayfield, in addition to being distantly related through marriage.
“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 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.
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.