Dec. 29, 1995: Roof collapses on Rescue 1’s Donald J. Herbert at 6:54 a.m., trapping him beneath debris and starving him of oxygen for six minutes. Firefighters storm back into burning house and pull him out.
Jan. 5, 1996: Herbert remains unconscious and on ventilator as family and friends continue vigil at Erie County Medical Center. Bishop Henry J. Mansell visits during the week.
March 19, 1996: Says his first word, “Hi,” after being in coma.
July 8, 1996: Herbert transferred from ECMC to the head-trauma unit at Our Lady of Victory Hospital in Lackawanna. He cannot see and shows no dramatic improvement.
July 12, 1996: Benefit held in Memorial Auditorium with proceeds to go toward his long-term care and education for four sons.
1997: Moves to Father Baker Manor nursing home in Orchard Park, where he lives in a minimally conscious state, nourished by a feeding tube.
April 30, 2005: Tells surprised Father Baker Manor employee to “take me to window” and then asks for his wife. He spends nearly 16 hours in lucid state talking to loved ones and friends who flock to nursing home.
May 2, 2005: Alert and verbal with family. Herbert also counts from one to 100.
May 3, 2005: Wakes up at 3:30 a.m. and tries to get out of bed several times.
May 4, 2005: Talks for a couple of hours in the morning and then in other periods later in day.
May 5, 2005: Talks a few minutes on the telephone with his son.
May 6, 2005: Alert, somewhat verbal at times, but uses facial expressions, hand gestures and head nods to communicate.
May 7, 2005: On his 44th birthday, he throws football to his sons in Father Baker Manor courtyard. Wife calls it “a very good day.”
May 10, 2005: Difficult to arouse for physical therapy and “extremely fatigued.”
May 13, 2005: Brain images taken at University Nuclear Medicine; report says “patient does have a good chance of recovery of meaningful neurologic functions, but the amount is uncertain.”
May 16, 2005: Nurse finds Herbert lying on floor bleeding at 12:35 a.m. after he falls from his bed. An ambulance takes him to ECMC for stitches and head and spinal scans. He is discharged back to the nursing home almost four hours later.
June 1, 2005: Admitted to Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, but his condition takes a turn for worse.
Aug. 18, 2005: Admitted to St. Camillus Health and Rehabilitation Center in Syracuse, where he makes “some gains,” according to facility.
Oct. 24, 2005: Admitted to Ridge View Manor Nursing Home in South Buffalo to, in wife’s words, “start square one again.”
Feb. 19, 2006: Taken to Mercy Hospital with pneumonia and fever.
Feb. 21, 2006: Herbert dies at 2:03 a.m., less than a year after his awakening.
Feb. 22, 2006: Autopsy performed. Chief medical examiner rules he “died of complications related to anoxic encephalopathy sustained during roof collapse as a Buffalo firefighter during a house fire. The manner of death is accident.”
Feb. 25, 2006: Thousands attend funeral in Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna, where the husband and father of four sons is remembered for his courage and inspiration.
Nov. 15, 2007: Linda Herbert sues Father Baker Manor, ECMC and several doctors.
Feb. 25, 2013: State Supreme Court Justice James H. Dillon refuses to dismiss lawsuit against defendants seeking summary judgment, except for one doctor who stopped treating Herbert before his awakening.