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West Webster victim speaks

Rochester, N.Y. On that bitter morning, directly behind this wall of flames, Ted Scardinos life hung in the balance.

I kind of just went into survival mode. When it first happened, I checked my vital signs real quickly, and said, Alright, Im okay. Im going to sit here and in five minutes the place will be crawling with police and this will be all over with. Little did I know what was transpiring. I understand why it took so long, but I just didnt imagine that. You did what you had to do to survive. The fear was there that he was going to come up and shoot me while the truck was on top of me. When the truck left, the fear became even greater. Thankfully, there was an officer west of the scene who started engaging him. I tell Mark Reid every time I see him, You saved my life. Because I think that without engaging him, there would have been nothing to do but take a few more shots at us. And thats my belief, Scardino said.

Ted Scardino remembers that cold Christmas Eve, when a house on Lake Avenue in Webster went up in flames shortly before one lone gunman opened fire on first responders.

Scardinos proximity to death can be measured in millimeters.

I was at a doctor the other day with the therapist. Were looking at this muscle and that muscle on my back. Right next to this muscle the bullet went through, is an artery. They said if that got hit, I probably wouldnt be standing here right now, Scardino said.

Its thoughts of those who fell, Tomasz Kaczowka and Mike Chiapperini, that have weighed heavily on Scardinos mind.

When the incident comes to mind, thats the first thing you think of, he said.

For Ted Scardino, there are also thoughts of justice for the shooter and the woman accused of arming him.

He was a sick individual, from what Ive heard. He needed to be locked up. He never should have been out. The lady who purchased him a gun needs to be prosecuted. Justice needs to be levied to her. Thats the frustrating thing right now, thats been going on for almost a year now, and there hasnt been a whole lot of progress. So, Im incredibly frustrated with that, Scardino said.

To counter that frustration, there is Scardinos recovery. Through pain and perserverance, hes slowly regaining the use of his left arm and hand.

There are also the tributes, memorials, and donations that help Scardino push through the frustration of remembering that day, and the aftermath.

Its unfortunate that we lost a couple guys, but the community outpouring, it shows you people really do have hearts. Yeah, theres a couple bad apples out there, but theres a lot of good people out there, Scardino said.

Two of those good people are no longer with us.

I dont think youll ever forget it. Theres no way to rationalize what happened, it doesnt make sense. It never should have happened, Scardino said.

Unfortunately, it did happen. For Ted Scardino, that reality will never fade, nor will his determination to pick himself up and walk out from behind the flames.

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Washington Times