2002-05-11 / Front Page

Owner of Gas Station Can’t Forget Flight 587 Crash

By Howard Schwach

Owner of Gas Station Can't
Forget Flight 587 Crash
By Howard Schwach

Jim Bulloch will never forget November 12, 2001, the day an aircraft engine dropped into his Texaco station on Beach 129 Street and made it arguably the most famous gas station in the world for a couple of days.

He can't forget, because he relives the experience almost every night.

"I don't sleep much any more. I think about that day. I hear an airplane flying over and I look to see which way it is going."

Bulloch was in the station's office that morning, getting ready to begin the day's work.

"I thought that a car exploded in the station," he says, obviously anguished about the memory even seven months later. "I didn't realize that the thing on fire in my station was an aircraft engine until we started to put it out and I saw the identification markings on it."

Bulloch, one of his workers, Carlos, and Bernie Herran, a retired firefighter who lives right across the street from the station, fought the fire and finally got it under control.

"It seemed like we fought it for hours," he says now, "but it was probably only fifteen or twenty minutes."

Herran, the owner of Harbor Light on Newport Avenue, quickly realized that his restaurant was at risk and headed for that site.

Bulloch says that his life has not been the same since that November day.

"I have a different outlook now," he says. "Things are different when I come to the station these days."

When the engine hit the station, Bullock was thrown backwards. He injured his leg. He says that all of the windows in the station blew outwards.

"They imploded from the concussion," he says. "If that glass had blown inward, we would not be talking today."

"There were engine parts embedded in the wall behind my desk," he told the Wave, pointing in that direction.

"I see that every night," he added.

The psychological scars from the incident are proving to be far worse than the physical scars, however.

Bulloch has sought professional help and he says that his son may soon leave his job to join his father at the station.

He has sought help in another way as well.

Manhattan attorney Frank Daly lives in Rockaway and is a customer at Bulloch's station.

Bulloch decided to sue both American Airlines and Airbus Industries, the company that built the Airbus 300-600 that crashed into Rockaway.

That lawsuit accuses American Airlines of negligence and Airbus with constructing the plane in a "dangerous, defective and unsafe manner."

Bulloch, whose wife, Tina, joins him in the suit, charged in the lawsuit that witnessing the "horrific event" close up, he suffered "extreme mental anguish, including fear of his death."

"Emotionally, it really knocked me for a loop," he says. "I was never a soft guy, but now I find myself close to tears all the time."

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