New York City Plumber Says He Was Fired For Helping Save Woman's Life
David Justino said the media attention from his rescue was too much for his employers.
Last month, Justino made headlines when he used his plumber's belt as a tourniquet to wrap around Green's severed foot after a cab crashed into her in midtown Manhattan. Justino was working as the foreman at the construction of a Duane Reade in the Rockefeller Center subway station. After the bleeding was brought under control, none other than famous television personality, Dr. Mehmet Oz, stumbled onto the scene and was able to help save Green's life. (She had to get her left leg amputated.) But in speaking to the Daily News in a separate report, Dr. Oz said, "the real hero of the day is plumber Dave." The use of his belt was "very smart thinking. A simple thing like a union plumber's belt can save your life," he said.
After the movie-like sequence made it to the public, the story soon grabbed headlines, with even NBC's "Today Show" doing a feature on it. And Justino thinks the attention motivated his employers to dismiss him. "I lost my job for saving this girl!" he told the Daily News. "All that commotion, my boss had enough of it and decided it would be better to fire me ... I think I would have been better off doing heroin than being a hero."
Days after the rescue, Justino's contractor, Bass Plumbing told him his last day on the gig was to be Sept. 13. He said he was forced to return full-time to running his aquarium shop in Yonkers, the Aquarium Critters Warehouse, a gig he prefers to keep as a part-time job.
Bass Plumbing, for its part, denied the fanfare led to the firing. The reason for the dismissal, they said, was far more mundane -- the work dried up. "Although we were very proud to have him working here, (Justino) was one of three union plumbers laid off due to lack of actual jobs the company is in the process of performing," a company representative said in a statement.
Green, for her part, only had gratitude for Justino and others who took part in her rescue. "There's good people in this world, very good people in this world that I can't thank enough. They saved my life. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be sitting here right now telling this story," she told the Today Show.
It is rare, but the drudgery of daily working life can present situations that allow heroes to rise to the occasion. Among the more daring recent acts of heroism profiled by AOL Jobs include the Chilean bus mechanic who stepped in to beat down a knife-wielding assailant as he was threatening the life of the bus driver.
His job was the last thing on Justino's mind after he witnessed the crash. "Everyone was pulling out cellphones, videotaping instead of helping," he told the Daily News."I wasn't going to let that cab take her life. God's biggest gift is life... I wouldn't let this thing happen. Not on my watch."
Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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