Many may not recall what they were doing on the night of September 2, 1989. Some, however, remember like it was yesterday. José Aguilar and Bill Lawton were training a new employee, Carol Gillooly, who was completing her last orientation shift prior to being released for regular duty: The call came in for the return of an elderly patient to his convalescent home in Colchester. This was not an emergency transport, but carried with it every element of the importance of patient care and responsibility. Bill, Carol, and José greeted the patient, moved him to and secured him in the ambulance and the transport began.
In the darkness of this cool September night Bill Lawton was driving the ambulance with all necessary due regard, protecting the four lives he has on board. Just one week earlier in fact, Bill had completed a Defensive Driving Program, being piloted by Hunter's Ambulance for adoption by the State. From Middletown to Portland and East Hampton through the twists and turns of Route 16, they innocently proceeded to their destination as they and many crews had done so many times before. Ahead of them and out of sight, a drunken man recklessly rocketed towards them back and forth across the centerline, his pickup truck suddenly came into view around a corner in a blur of white lights.
The peacefulness of the crisp country air was shattered. The pickup truck crossed into the path of the ambulance from around a bend and hit the ambulance head-on at a high rate of speed. The two vehicles became one, exploding into flames. The flames crept ominously closer and closer into the twisted mixture of metal that was once an ambulance. As Bill fought for his life pinned in the cab of the ambulance, rescuers responded by air and ground, and came to the aid of their brothers and sister. They worked with strength and intensity almost beyond their human abilities. These life saving efforts were the very same type of skills that José, Bill and Carol had used to help and save the lives of many people before this night. The heart-wrenching, nearly overwhelming outcome was the loss of life of the patient and the caregivers Bill Lawton, EMT, and Carol Gillooly, EMT. José barely survived and was disabled after a lengthy rehabilitation.
Words, both spoken and written, cannot do justice to the senselessness of the loss of these lives. Lives that were ripped away from the carelessness of one drunk driver. Lives that had committed themselves to helping others in need. This tournament mourns the loss of Carol and Bill. It is in their memory, and in the honor of their life saving spirit of “Concern for others” that we are here.
To date, over 382 recipients have benefited from monies raised through your support of the Hunter's Ambulance Golf Classic. These individuals, from cities and towns around the State, have been able to use the funds to pursue or further their education and training in the fields of Emergency Medical Services, healthcare, and related fields in their communities. The Memorial Fund provides financial aid for tuition, books, and license fees, as well as classroom space, office space and training equipment to various groups involved with the training and education of these individuals.
Thank you for your participation in this meaningful and worthwhile event.
Hunter's Ambulance Annual Golf Classic Committee