Lee Cirillo and her wife were out exploring the snow in a snowmobile on Nicolls Road on Feb. 9 when a man flagged them down for help.
He was a firefighter plowing part of the road so an ambulance could get through to aid a 44-year-old man who was experiencing cardiac problems while shoveling snow, and he thought perhaps Cirillo could help the patient get to the hospital.
"There was no thought in it. They asked me for help and I was there," said Cirillo, a 1995 graduate of Ward Melville High School who now owns Fitness Together in Port Jefferson and blogs for Port Jefferson Patch.
In an interview with Patch, Cirillo said she followed a trail of tracks left by emergency vehicles to Lower Sheep Pasture Rd. and Gnarled Hollow Rd. The ambulance could not get any further – but it was still another mile to get to the house, where the Setauket Fire Department rescue crew had trudged through the snow and strapped the man into a stokes basket. Cirillo said she had to make a u-turn to go back and get ropes for the rescue, which the crew then used to attach the stokes basket to the snowmobile. Cirillo steered the man back to the ambulance, which took him to Stony Brook University Hospital.
Obstacles along the way included getting over huge snow drifts of three to four feet.
"That was very challenging," Cirillo said. "It was a very intense experience, it really was, and I’ve been riding my whole life."
In an email to Patch, Setauket fire chief Dennis Mirante expressed "special thanks" to Cirillo.
According to a news release from Stony Brook University Hospital, the patient, Thomas Monaghan of East Setauket, knew he was having a heart attack because he'd had one before. He underwent emergency surgery to receive two stents, which relieved two blocked arteries. On Feb. 15, the hospital announced that Monahan, a father of five whose wife Margaret was a cardiac nurse who helped him when he initially began experiencing heart attack symptoms, had returned home.
Watching the news on television a few days after the rescue, Cirillo finally learned the man's name and that he'd survived – and he expressed his thanks to the Good Samaritans in a snowmobile who stopped to help.
"I was so overwhelmed with emotion to hear that he made it," Cirillo said. "That was a nice feeling."
Do you have a snow story to share? Email your story and photos to ChristineS@patch.com.