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Volunteer doesn't let accident stop him

November 14, 1999

By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

Photo by RIC DUGAN / Staff Photographer


BOONSBORO - Scott Douglas Mullendore doesn't remember much about the accident that left him a paraplegic nearly a year ago and he doesn't spend much time trying.

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Instead, the 24-year-old college student and Boonsboro Fire Department captain said he focuses on his future.

"I'm pretty much all right," he said. "I still can take care of much of the same things I used to. I keep in touch with all the guys in the fire department and all the friends I used to."

Mullendore has been taking general courses at Hagerstown Community College and advanced instructor training with the University of Maryland Fire & Rescue Institute. He said he may decide to study computers or look for a paid administrative position with a fire department. He was formerly a utility worker for the Town of Boonsboro.

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After attending two firefighter banquets the evening of Jan. 10, Mullendore said he lost control of his 1988 Chevrolet Blazer. The Blazer had hit a guardrail and telephone pole before overturning down an embankment.

Along with head injuries and a severely bruised lung, his spinal cord was severed, leaving him permanently paralyzed from the waist down, he said.

Mullendore said he had a few beers that evening but doesn't believe that caused the accident because he had eaten dinner and stopped drinking about an hour and a half before driving.

People have told him the hilly, winding roads he traveled were icy that night, he said.

His mother, Joyce Mullendore, said his condition was grave and "he coded three times."

"I thank God every day that he is alive. I feel very lucky - as long as I have him that's all that matters," she said.

Joyce Mullendore said she is grateful to the public for supporting her son and believes it helped him through the ordeal.

"He had 61 visitors in one day at the hospital. They were glad to get rid of him," she said of nurses at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, Baltimore.

Mullendore's fellow firefighters rallied to his side after the accident, raising money for medical bills.

He drives a specially equipped Toyota 4-Runner and his home has been adapted with handicapped ramps, all courtesy of area firefighters.

Within six weeks of the accident, Mullendore said he was "back to pretty much full strength," which he attributes to his prior good health.

He moved back to Boonsboro, where lives with his mother and brother Christopher, 15.

Mullendore gets around in a wheelchair and said he feels good.

Despite the permanence of his physical condition, Mullendore said he doesn't have trouble keeping his spirits up. "I just keep going. I keep myself busy," he said.

Her son does have his bad days, but overall he remains positive, said Joyce Mullendore.

"I am so proud of him. He's handled it so well," she said.

An eight-year veteran and captain with the Boonsboro Fire Department, Mullendore continues to be active with the company. He coordinates fire scenes and organizes training for firefighters.

It bothers him that he can no longer suit up and go inside buildings to fight fires, but Mullendore said he knows what he does is just as important.

Finding that Mullendore wanted to stick with the fire service even after his accident was not surprising, said Boonsboro Deputy Chief Keith Albrecht. "He's always been very dedicated."

Mullendore's fighting spirit and positive attitude have earned him the admiration of many of his firefighting "brothers," Albrecht said.

"He's never let anything get in his way."

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