Volunteer firefighter Justin Angell summed up his good fortune as he left the hospital, saying, "I'm just glad to be alive. I'm ready to go home."
Shot a little more than a day earlier by the crash victim he had tried to rescue, he left Nassau University Medical Center Thursday morning.
Angell told firefighters and others that he plans to return to the department. "Of course," he said. "I love what I do.
"In a couple of weeks, maybe a month or so."
Of the drama that ended when the gunman was killed by police, Angell said, "It was pretty scary. It could have been a lot worse."
He said that in his three years as a volunteer firefighter with the Bellmore Fire Department, being shot on a call was never a concern. He said it wasn't until the pain set in that he realized he had actually been hit.
Angell, 20, of Bellmore, a firefighter and EMT, took a bullet to the back from a laser-sight-equipped SKS 7 assault-style rifle, authorities have said.
It happened so fast, Angell said, that he didn't even see the gun or get a good look at the man who shot him, later identified as the crash victim, Jason Beller, 31, of Commack.
Recordings of communications with a dispatcher paint a vivid image of what happened.
"We got a gunshot victim right here," the dispatcher was told by someone at the scene. The victim was Angell.
The initial call to 911 reported a car hit a pole in front of 2511 Bellmore Ave., and someone was injured. Volunteers with the Bellmore Fire Department, including Angell and his older brother, Dean, were among the first to arrive.
As they pulled up, bullets rang out of the silver truck involved in the crash. The driver was shooting at his rescuers.
In a 13-minute audio clip posted at FireSceneAudio.com, a startled dispatcher asks, "What do you have going on there?"
"A male is shooting . . ." someone at the scene shouts.
"A male is shooting a gun?" the dispatcher asks.
Police later found an arsenal in Beller's car.
"I'm glad he didn't get to go where he was going," said Dean Angell, 22.
Thursday, Justin Angell was joined by his father, Gene, 51, his brother and more than a dozen members of the Bellmore Fire Department in an auditorium at the hospital. The firefighters cheered as Angell was wheeled out. He was flown in a police helicopter to Gunther Field across the street from his house.
From there, an ambulance drove him home. Though he needed help to stand at the hospital, by the time he arrived he was able to walk up the three stairs to the two-story house.