BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – Friends and loved ones are praying for Bill Sager, the Airman who is in a coma following an incident at Mollys Pub in Buffalo earlier this month.
Jeff Basil, a 35-year-old Amherst man who has ties to the bar, though his exact role remains unclear, has been charged with assault. Two off-duty Buffalo Police officers are being investigated after Sager toppled down a flight of steps after allegedly being pushed by Basil. Police sources say they will both officers will be placed on unpaid leave on Tuesday.
The crew chief who maintains the C-130 planes for the 107th Airlift Wing in Niagara Falls has a lot of friends. They have launched a #PrayforBill fundraising campaign.
Family and friends continue to stay at Sager’s bedside at the Erie County Medical Center. Though he is believed to have suffered a traumatic brain injury, they talk to him softly and believe he can still hear them.
Sgt. Greg Sliwa said, “I mention who’s there, who’s next to him. We’re all thinking of him. Taking care of the rest of his family, which I’m sure he would want.”
Sager’s fiance, Erika Webster, was looking forward to their wedding in a couple of months. She is also at his bedside, talking to him in loving terms.
Family friend Staff Sergeant Kristina Brown said, “He’s got a beautiful fiance who loves him deeply. He spoke often of having children and what it was like to be a parent, so that was on his mind a lot.”
Sager has been described as trustworthy and hard working. He is also a talented musician. He played guitar in rock bands.
At Silver Creek High School he played football and baseball, according to Mayor Nick Piccolo. The mayor said Silver Creek Athletic Director Sean Hemmer remembers Sager as a “great kid to coach, a fun-loving team player with a positive attitude.”
Sager’s hard work has recently been focused on becoming a New York State Trooper. He was about midway in the application process, but was also offered a job as a sensor operator for the new Raptor drone planes, when the mission of the 107th converts to operation of the Raptor remotely piloted aircraft.
107th Commander Col. John Higgins said the 28-year-old is a “very respectful, good worker.”
Sager deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. He also took part in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and Hurricane Sandy.
A T-shirt that includes the words #PrayforBill is selling well.
“I hear we’re over $4,000,” said Col Higgins, who added, “The guy who is making T-shirts is off today. Took a day of vacation so he could make some more T-shirts Make some more money.”
“We’re all praying,” said Sgt. Sliwa. “That’s all it is. That’s all we can do.”