When a vehicle crashed into the front of a house on Clinton Street on Saturday, it also wiped out the wheelchair ramp at the home next door.
And that left Heliberto Sanchez in a big bind.
“How am I going to get in and out now?” thought Sanchez, who relies on a wheelchair.
A good Samaritan came to his rescue, however.
Brian Leistner, of Brijo Construction, was driving by when he saw the look on Sanchez’s face and the mangled mess of metal that had been the wheelchair ramp.
“I felt sorry for him,” said Leistner, 33. “I have a prosthetic leg myself.”
So Leistner stopped, called off the job he had scheduled for Saturday and got a couple of his guys over to Sanchez’s home to make the ramp serviceable again.
“That was really cool,” said Sanchez, 41. “He was driving by and stopped. He said he wanted to do whatever he could.”
The crash happened at about noon in the 1500 block of Clinton Street, near Bailey Avenue.
A vehicle was traveling east on Clinton when the driver apparently suffered a medical emergency, Buffalo police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge said.
The vehicle crossed the double yellow line and jumped the curb, DeGeorge said, taking out the wheelchair ramp at 1514 Clinton and then crashing into the porch and foundation of the house next door at 1516 Clinton.
The collision sounded like a bomb going off, Sanchez said.
The 58-year-old driver was taken to Erie County Medical Center for treatment, along with his passenger, DeGeorge said.
“The ramp can be replaced,” Sanchez said. “I’m just glad [the driver] is all right and nobody else got hurt.”
Meanwhile, Leistner, his brother Robert and employee Jeff Ross got to work on the ramp. They unbolted it, sawed off the twisted pieces and used a sledge hammer to straighten out the metal where they could.
Two to three hours later, it looked like a ramp again.
Sanchez – who bought the ramp for $8,000 three months ago when he moved into the house – was very grateful. Still, Sanchez said he will need to replace it.
He’s able to get down the ramp OK, but getting up the ramp is more difficult because some of the railings had to be sawed off.
“With some assistance I can still get in,” said Sanchez, who suffered a spinal injury several years ago. “But how I’m going to replace it, God only knows.”