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Wounded West Webster firefighters tell their story

Updated: Thursday, July 11 2013, 10:39 PM EDT
Webster, N.Y. - Ted Scardino called the ambush a nightmare. 

He and 3 of his fellow West Webster firefighters were the first to respond to a car fire on Lake Rd. Christmas Eve morning. 

Scardino was in the fire truck with Mike Chiapperini when it pulled up to the scene.

"Within seconds of the first shot, Chip said, 'We're being shot at,'" Scardino said. 

Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka died that day. 

Scardino and Joe Hofstetter, the other injured firefighter, talked publicly for the first time Wednesday.

"Obviously, this was an evil act, but there's a lot of good in this world and it comes out when you need it," Hofstetter said. 

Hofstetter is credited with saving lives by calling in the shooting and telling approaching firefighters to stay back. 

"I did what I was able to do that day," he said. 

Hofstetter was shot in the pelvis, Scardino the shoulder.

Both are in physical therapy and expect months, if not years, of rehab. 

Scardino said he actually didn't feel much pain after being shot.

He even had the wherewithal to take cover under the fire truck.

Unaware Scardino was under the truck, Hofstetter drove it away in an attempt to escape.

That left Scardino lying in the road, exposed.

He played dead for an hour and a half. 

"It was a nightmare,"' Scardino said. "Wondering what was going to happen next ... The heat from the house did start to burn my head and feet."

While thankful to be alive, the two are still mourning the loss of Chiapperini and Kaczowka.

"It was tough ... They were our friends as well as our colleagues," Hofstetter said. 

Scardino said he's now working on regaining movement in his left arm and hand.

He's also trying not to let the memories turn into questions. 

"Why did he do that? Why did I survive? You can't answer that, you just have to move on," Scardino said.

Moving on to Hofstetter involves a full recovery.

"We were both active people and we want to get back into that," he said.

The men held the news conference in part to thank the community that rallied around them.

And it wasn't just fundraisers.

Scardino said he was comforted by all those who came up to him at Wegmans to give him a pat on the back and kind word.Wounded West Webster firefighters tell their story


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