YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Mahoning County Haz-Mat Chief Steve Szekely got emotional remembering the night of February 3. He and fellow Springfield Township firefighter Jared Musial rushed to East Palestine for that toxic train derailment but made an inadvertent turn, ending up on the wrong side of the tracks.
“We turned around and it was only me and Jared standing there. And we had the tanker. We had no water supply, just the water on the tanker,” Szekely said.
As Szekely manned the pumps, he says Musial carried a hose toward the flames but then Szekely lost sight of his partner.
“Before I put out a mayday, which is one of those calls you never want to put out, I saw the hose move and I go, okay, he’s doing something,” Szekely said.
Minutes later, Musial came back around to the tanker. His turnout gear was discolored from the heat.
“The heel of his boot was coming off from the chemicals,” Szekely said.
Mahoning County Commissioners presented a resolution to Musial Thursday, who works by day for the Mahoning County Engineer, praising him for his bravery. He said the wrong turn that night put them right where they needed to be/
“Call it what you want, but I guess I was fortunate that we did miss that turn that night and where we ended up we did a lot of good for the community and stopping that fire,” Musial said.
Musial’s wife is another volunteer with Springfield, serving as an EMT and still remembers the night her husband jumped out of bed and ran to the fire station.
“I think it takes a lot for somebody to be very dedicated and for any firefighter to put themselves in a situation like that — so very proud,” she said.
As for the praise and recognition, Musial says he’s simply happy to serve his community.