Ten years ago today in Riverhead, on a bright and sunny afternoon much like today, time was shocked to a standstill when the unthinkable happened.
Two Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps members perished in a horrific ambulance crash on Route 25 in Aquebogue, as the ambulance rushed a cardiac patient from Jamesport to Central Suffolk Hospital.
Paramedic William Stone, 30, and EMT Heidi Behr, 23, lost their lives that Tuesday in the 1:30 p.m. crash. The cardiac patient they were transporting, Joseph Wowack, age 65, survived.
Behr, a top responder in the corps, left behind a severely disabled infant son, Jared, just 15 months old.
At 1:30 this afternoon, Behr’s family joined RVAC members around a newly installed memorial outside the corps’ Osborn Avenue headquarters to remember the two fallen emergency service workers — the only line-of-duty deaths in the ambulance corps’ 37-year history.
The memorial was designed and built by Sound Shore Pond and Landscape of Wading River.
RVAC president Kimberly Pokorny, a close family friend of the Behr family, and corpsman Marianne Trubish, purchased plants, two benches and a frog garden sculpture — Heidi loved frogs — to arrange around the three upright Mongolian basalt stones crafted into a fountain by Sound Shore Pond’s Allan Schule. The memorial is lighted at night.
Behr’s son, now 11, her parents, John and June Behr, her younger sister Dana and grandmother Dorothy were on hand today along with her fellow EMS volunteers to remember Heidi and Bill. Until this afternoon, the Behrs had not laid eyes on the memorial, which was completed Friday afternoon.
“It’s beautiful,” June Behr said when she saw the memorial. “It’s truly beautiful.”
Behr’s parents said they were grateful to their daughter’s friends and colleagues for remembering her and for seeing to it that their daughter will always be remembered.
“It really means a lot to us,” John Behr said.
“We just wanted a place where you guys could come and where people could see it — not that we’ve ever forgotten them,” Pokorny, breaking down as she spoke, told Behr’s parents.
“We just want to thank them for being our angels,” she said.
The memorial will be formally dedicated at 10:30 a.m. on May 17, the day of the Riverhad Volunteer Ambulance Corps’ annual open house.
A plaque commemorating the two fallen emergency workers will be installed before the dedication ceremony, Pokorny said.
Correction: The original version of this article had an incorrect date for the RVAC open house. It will he held on Sunday, May 17.
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