BLOOMING GROVE - A 66-year-old ambulance driver stricken for more than a month with COVID-19 succumbed to the illness on Thursday in what is believed to be the first death in Orange County of an emergency medical worker caused by the coronavirus.
Sal Mancuso was a married father of one and a beloved substitute teacher in Washingtonville and Cornwall school districts, where he had worked since retiring from a career in sales. He drove ambulances for the Blooming Grove Volunteer Ambulance Corps for the last eight years, twice a week during the school year and more often in the summer.
“He was just a super-dedicated guy,” said Brian Bates, chief of the ambulance corps.
He said Mancuso first got sick on March 27 and was admitted to Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in the City of Newburgh on April 6. He died there early Thursday morning after spending almost two weeks on a ventilator.
Eight corps members in all have caught the coronavirus, including two of Mancuso’s partners. How and when Mancuso contracted the virus has not been pinpointed, but Bates said it seemed certain he had gotten it from transporting sick patients.
Mancuso’s son, Brandon, 26, said his father had an infectious smile and warm manner, and was fondly known as “Mr. Man” among students at Washingtonville High School. He said teachers planning for extended absences would compete to have his dad as their replacement.
“He really took pride in working with students and working with the community,” he said.
Several hundred people - co-workers, parents, and others - attested to that description in a flood of glowing comments on Facebook, recalling an unfailingly upbeat, professional and friendly presence. “Sal was a gentleman, a lovely conversationalist and a treasure,” one high school colleague wrote.
Blooming Grove Supervisor Robert Jeroloman described Mancuso as a consummate professional who showed up early for meetings to discuss the ambulance corps, always dressed in a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase. He called Mancuso “a perfect gentleman.”
“He’s really going to be missed,” Jeroloman said.
Brandon Mancuso said he and his mother, Marie, were grateful for the care his father received from the staff at St. Luke’s and the support from the ambulance corps.
Orange County has now had more than 8,900 confirmed coronavirus cases, and 320 residents who have died from the illness. Blooming Grove has had 307 positive tests.
County officials said Thursday that no other emergency medical service workers in the county have died from COVID-19.