By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY January 27, 2006 Much of early November is a blur for Percy Ramos.
A deputy who joined the Sullivan County Sheriffs Department in August last year, Ramos was headed to an emergency in the Town of Highland when he lost control of his cruiser.
He remembers it was a suicide call.
Medical personnel were at the scene, and they were being threatened, he recalled. On the way there, I guess the vehicle lost control.
After that, theres nothing.
I kind of blanked out, he said. I dont remember much . . . I dont really know much.
He knows he was airlifted to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla with serious injuries after being trapped in the cruiser.
And he now knows his lung had collapsed, hed suffered an aneurysm, hed fractured his ears and he had a number of other problems.
Hes been through three surgeries, and only now are the nerves healing so he can open his eyes.
But with both eyes open, Ramos sees double.
Hes been issued an eye patch, and he said the guys are teasing him that he looks like a pirate.
Ramos gets painful headaches, headaches the doctors say they cant do anything about.
Theyre part of the healing process.
Im going to have them for several months, Ramos said.
But Ramos looks at the bright side.
Hes put his life on the line for others for much of his life he served in the Marine Corps from 1994 to 1998, then he took a job working for the Town of Deerpark Police Department in September 2004.
By 2005, the Monticello native was ready to make the move to the Sheriffs Department, where his twin brother Peter has been a deputy since 2001.
I always wanted to be a cop, Ramos explained. Theyre helping a lot of people out.
Yeah, theres the excitement, the adrenaline, but theres helping people, getting thank yous.
He remembers a phone call from his mom, Maria, while he was in the hospital.
She told him she had someone who wanted to talk to him, then handed the phone over.
A voice came over the line that Ramos recognized it was a man to whom hed issued a large number of tickets since joining the sheriffs department.
But he said, I know you gave me tickets, but that was my fault. I just want you to get better and get back on the road, Ramos said with amazement. I guess when you treat someone like a human, not an animal, they know you are there to help them.
Thats what hes gotten since his November 14 accident, a lot of people whove wanted to say thank you to a public servant.
A raffle was held during a basketball game at his alma mater in Monticello, and he received hospital visits from not only his co-workers but incoming Sheriff Mike Schiff and new Undersheriff Eric Chaboty, peers on other local squads and folks from the community.
He had posters made of construction paper on his hospital room walls from children in Sullivan County.
One said, Thank you for protecting us, get better soon. Another teased him, I hope you know where the brakes are now.
That really motivated me, Ramos said. You do work for them, and you are putting your life out there for them, and you realize they are thankful.
Right now Ramos is facing six months to a year of recovery. Although workers compensation covers his medical costs, hes not able to receive a full salary while hes not working, and his family has racked up huge bills between traveling to see him in the hospital, missing work to be by his side through surgery and other incidentals.
After his treatment in Westchester, he was transferred to Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw for rehab. Once he was discharged, he still had to travel to the hospital for more rehab, incurring more costs.
Thats why Sgt. Luis Alvarez and a number of others on the force have put together a dinner, set for February 11, to help the Ramos family.
He needs it . . . theyve spent a fortune, Alvarez said. And hes a good kid, a very hard working young man.
The dinner will be held at the Liberty Elks Lodge on Darbee Lane from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 11.
Tickets are $20, and the full-course dinner will include ziti, sausage and peppers, meatballs, salad, dessert and coffee or tea. A cash bar will be available.
For more information, call the Sullivan County Sheriffs Department at 794-7100.
For Ramos, the benefit and the efforts of people throughout the community have been motivation to recover quickly and get back out on the road.
Hes already amazing doctors with his progress.
It feels a lot like people are looking out for you, Ramos said.