CLARKSTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — This flu season was one of the worst on record.
Even now, months later, it’s left a volunteer firefighter in the fight of his life.
At 19-years-old, Will McCue was the picture of health – a varsity athlete turned volunteer firefighter and college freshman with aspirations of one day joining the FDNY.
“You just knew he’d be a guy for life,” New City Fire Chief John Latancio told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
“He didn’t miss any drills from the time he got in in May until the time he was sick,” Assistant Chief Richard Willows added.
McCue started feeling sick toward the tail end of January.
“We were in the gym working out, and he had told me he wasn’t feeling well, and he left. And, unfortunately, the next day he came down with the flu,” firefighter Richard Willows said.
Within days, he was hospitalized.
“The flu, pneumonia, sepsis. It was a domino effect,” Chief Latancio said.
“As time progressed and he got moved to other hospitals and stuff, that’s when it really got bad,” Assistant Chief Willows said.
The fire chief said McCue’s body was fighting so hard to sustain his vital organs, his extremities shut down. Doctors had to amputate both of his hands and both of his feet.
“It’s hard to see a 19-year-old just have everything taken away from him pretty much at that moment,” firefighter John Latancio said.
When they visited McCue in the intensive care unit last week to name him an honorary lifetime member, his fellow firefighters were struck by the teen’s dogged positivity.
“’I don’t like to lose.’ That was one of his things, he goes, ‘I’m not losing,’” Chief Latancio said.
“All he talks about is being able to be a fireman again,” Assistant Chief Willows added.
McCue’s engine house and old football team are raising money to pay for prosthetics.
“That’s our mission, and we are going to get him what he needs,” said Chief Latancio.
So he can live out his dream of putting on his uniform again.