RONKONKOMA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A Navy veteran and volunteer firefighter on Long Island is struggling to recover after losing both hands while working for Amtrak at Penn Station.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, life for Rob Zimmerman has been forever changed following an electrical shock while working as a linesman last January.
“They said that they had to cut his hands off, so I said no,” his wife, Christine, told McLogan. “I begged them to wake him up and ask him first, but they said that if they didn’t, he would die.”
Parts of both arms and toes were amputated. The former LIRR engineer survived more than a dozen surgeries, kidney failure and cardiac arrest.
“The first night when he got electrocuted, his heart stopped,” Christine said.
Rob’s memory of the ordeal is dim.
“I was walking up the stairs to the top of the Cat car. The power was supposed to be out. I felt stuck, couldn’t let go of whatever had a hold of me. And I knew I was in trouble. Then once everything went black, I just passed out,” he said.
Once he came to, he was unable to move.
“I just remember screaming at the top of my lungs,” he said.
After three months in the hospital, he’s finally back home to Ronkonkoma where for decades he’s been a volunteer firefighter and medic.
“Once they heard what happened, they made me a life member,” he said. “Which is great, because now I can still be a part of the firehouse.”
He’s also been a volunteer coach in town for years.
“Now, it’s us being the recipient, and it’s very humbling,” said Christine.
Rob credits his family, having to do everything for him now as he yearns for his independence.
The Zimmermans hope to renovate their home of 18 years to make it more accessible, starting with foot-controlled sinks and showers. Rob also said “prosthetics are in the future.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been started by the community.
Amtrak said the causes of Rob’s injuries is still under investigation.