East Hartford firefighter returns home after frightful fall

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A firefighter in East Hartford returned home on Friday after falling through a skylight covered in snow on top of a parking garage. 

Chief Training Officer James Silver was on a retaining wall trying to get a better view of a rescue underway in the Connecticut River, when he stepped a little bit forward on a snowy area directly onto the skylight.

The skylight broke and sent Silver plunging 16 feet on to a parking garage below. Silver suffered a serious head injury and fractured leg.

The person that jumped off the bridge remains in critical condition at Hartford hospital.

Within two minutes of the call coming in, firefighters and police were on the scene.

“We had one vehicle and one chance to get every piece of equipment and every person down here that we needed to get down here,” said Lieutenant Robert Allan.

“We knew he had suffered serious injuries from the fall so we had to get him from the water there was no way to get a backboard under him until we moved him from the water onto a backboard and they we secured him,” Allan said. 

Silver said he was trying to get a better vantage point of the Connecticut River and the rescue, when he stepped up onto a snow bank at the edge of a parking lot at an office building.

Ginny Apple of East Hartford watched Silver fall from the snow-covered skylight. It wasn’t on top of the building where you’d expect to find one; instead it was over a stairwell that drops down into a parking garage below.

“He walked up, stepped there, and then boom,” Apple said. “It was pretty shocking for us because he just disappeared.”

“From the skylight to the stair landing is about 14 feet, and then another six feet backwards down to the landing where he came to rest,” an East Hartford officer said. “It’s an accident. It’s something that happened, and we’ll have to figure out how to prevent it in the future.”

The officer said Silver was in good spirits and was looking forward to a 100-mile bike ride in June.

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