HUGHESTOWN — Fire Captain Ryan Meranti has spent the last nine years protecting the community, and now there is a chance to pay him back.
Meranti, 24, was injured in a motor vehicle accident on Feb. 2 in Old Forge.
“He was driving along to his girlfriend’s in Old Forge and a car lost control and hit Ryan,” said Hughestown Hose Company Fire Chief Jamie Merlino. “The guy died and Ryan walked away with a broken leg.”
Meranti said he has a fractured femur in his right leg that required staples and a titanium rod going from his hip to his toes.
He was taken to Geisinger-Community Medical Center in Scranton following the accident.
“It was actually pretty horrible when I came to,” he said of his broken leg. “I was unconscious at the time and when I came to my foot was in the other direction.”
Because of his injury, Meranti is unable to work and cannot start rehab until after the staples in his knee are removed and even then, he said, he will require at least six months of rehab before he can start walking on his own again.
He said he is unsure when his staples will be removed, but will be getting more x-rays on Feb. 23. For now, he is using a walker to help him move.
In addition to being the fire captain for the Hughestown Hose Company, Meranti also drives the firetruck for the Laflin Fire Department, works as a valet at the Mohegan Sun Pocono and was recently hired as a firefighter at the Pocono Raceway.
Because all of his jobs are part-time, Meranti cannot collect worker’s compensation and said he is dipping into his savings account to provide for himself and his 4-year-old son.
While he is getting help from his family and friends, Meranti’s girlfriend, Kayla Chludzinski, started a GoFundMe page for members of the community to donate money to help him pay for medical expenses and provide for his son.
“She told me she was going to start the page and I was surprised,” Meranti said. “I’m not the type of person who tries to depend on people; I’m not used to asking people for help.”
Meranti, a Hughestown resident, has been a member of the Hughestown Hose Company for nine years, and Merlino said they miss his strong work ethic.
“Ryan’s not the type of guy to sit around and it’s tough not having him,” said Merlino. “We’re making due and we’re waiting for him to be healthy.”
Despite the long process of rehab ahead, Meranti is thankful to be alive and looks forward to lacing up his fireman boots once more.
“I’m just taking it day by day,” he said. “I’m fortunate to still be alive and I’m still here continuing to be part of the fire department and be an asset to the community, as I have been for nine years and still be able to see my son grow up.”