New York, NY – Two years ago, 23-year Transit veteran and conductor Ben Schaeffer, was hailed as a hero when he quickly evacuated a train at a the 36th Street stop in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, after seeing someone pouring gasoline all over the train floor.
Initially, alerted to the situation by passengers, he quickly took the initiative and, fearing an explosion, told everyone to evacuate immediately.
Schaeffer told News 4 New York at the time, “I opened the door, and fumes – gasoline fumes just hit me in the face.”
Police and firefighters were called to the scene and the person suspected of pouring the gasoline was arrested.
Shaeffer, 57, was recognized formally by the Transit Authority, and given a Medal of Excellence for his role in the potentially deadly incident.
Now, the heroic conductor, who likely saved lives, is fighting for his own life on a ventilator at Maimonides Medical Center after contracting COVID-19. A new experimental treatment, called “convalescent plasma,” has been recommended by doctors. Male blood donors who tested positive for the coronavirus and have recovered and gone for at least 14 days without symptoms are needed.
Eric Loegel, vice president of RTO (Rapid Transit Operations), said, “Ben is a wonderful guy. Very helpful. He’s been very involved in the union for many years. He goes back and forth between working the train and working for the union. He’s vocal and involved and very dedicated to Local 100 and his community…as well as being as a conductor, he is Local 100 RTO vice chair, and also a shop steward.”
A number of union and non-union members have reached out to see if they can help, says Loegel. “A lot of folks are interested in making a donation,” of blood plasma, he said. Doctors also say the blood type of the donor (Shaeffer is A+) does not matter with the plasma treatment.
“Everyone in the union, in NYC transit is pulling for the best outcome,” he adds. “We want him to get off that ventilator and have a full and speedy recovery.”
The number at Maimonides Hospital for potential donors to call is 718. 283.7657.