by MIKE LESKO  |  REPORTER
Aurora — An Aurora service department employee injured Jan. 6 while on the job was scheduled to undergo his fourth surgery Jan. 13 to make a clean amputation of his left leg.
Alan Zielinski, 53, of Streetsboro, a 15-year service department veteran, was flown by emergency medical helicopter to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland after being struck by a vehicle while repairing a mailbox on Eggleston Road.
He had surgery Jan. 8 on both legs.
“The left leg was amputated at the scene,” said his wife, Carrie. “The [left] leg was detached at the scene. The loss of blood at the scene was tremendous.”
On the left leg, she said doctors were going to work to “check out” the knee. He lost the left leg below the knee, and the surgery was to be on the knee.
She said work was to be done on the right leg, which she said is “severely broken and damaged, but they were able to save the right leg.”
Carrie said her husband “has done pretty well” so far. “The support we’ve received from the community has been very encouraging,” she said.
She said her husband also experienced a small spine fracture that doctors have told her will have to heal on its own, plus he suffered a head laceration.
Aurora Police Chief Brian Byard said the vehicle’s driver, a 48-year-old Chagrin Falls man whose name was not released because charges had not been filed as of press time, was traveling northbound on Eggleston when he hit Zielinski.
Zielinski was pinned between a city pickup truck and the car which hit him.
Byard said the driver eventually will be cited.
“We are waiting on additional information from the vehicle’s onboard black box that will tell us critical information such as speed and braking,” he said.
“The driver will be cited; it’s just a matter of what he’s cited with at this point. We do not believe that drugs or alcohol were a factor at this point. The blood work taken from the driver will confirm that one way or another.”
THE CHIEF said road conditions were not a factor in the accident, but speed and driver inattention might have been when the incident occurred at about 8:35 a.m.
“This is such an unexpected tragedy,” Aurora Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said. “Please keep Al and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”
The mayor praised the city’s safety forces and service department, which assisted at the scene.
Meanwhile, the chief said the city made counseling services available to any city employees who requested them.
Although there was a post on Facebook stating Alan was in a coma, that was never the case, Mrs. Zielinski said.
“They didn’t have to put him in a coma or anything,” she said Jan 7. “He knew where he was. He was very alert.”
Carrie also thanked Aurora Fire Chief David Barnes and his department for “going above and beyond” the call of duty.
“I want to say how thankful I am for the community, for Aurora and Chief Barnes and the fire department for taking care of him and me, as well,” she said.
Barnes picked her up and drove her to the hospital and then stayed there until family and friends arrived. He also was the one to tell Carrie about the accident.
“Chief Barnes called me and he kind of gave me gradual information, so I wasn’t blown away,” she said.
The day was supposed to be a fun one for the Zielinski family, she added.
“It was our son’s birthday, and he was waiting for daddy to come home with a present,” she said. “The hardest part was not be able to see him. He’s in intensive care, so they’re very strict with who come in because of flu season.”
Alan James Zielinski Jr. turned 8 on Jan. 7.
Carrie said people wishing to donate to help the family should contact First Baptist Church of Streetsboro’s pastor, the Rev. Robert York. The church can be reached at 330-626-3446.
(Editor’s Note: Advocate editor Ken Lahmers and Gateway News Editor Bob Gaetjens contributed to this article.)
Email: mlesko@recordpub.com
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187