By FELICIA KRIEG
---- — ALTONA — Eric Monty was a giver.
“From a very young age, he showed a generous spirit, and this marked him throughout his life,” said Dennis Monty, the Altona man’s eldest brother.
Eric, 45, died early Tuesday when he suffered a heart attack behind the wheel of an ambulance on an EMS call. The rig crashed on Route 190 near Duley Road, injuring patient Gary Lamarche, 55, of Altona and Champlain EMS technician Peter Coulombe, 26, of Champlain.
Lamarche was treated at CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh following the accident and then released. On Wednesday, Coulombe was listed in serious condition at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.
Eric’s older sister, Susan Roberts, 52, an EMT on board the ambulance, was also injured in the accident but is doing better, said their sister Mary Ellen Tomo.
“She’s a trouper. She’s got six broken ribs, a punctured bone, lacerated liver, concussion and lots of bruising,” Mary Ellen said. “(But) she’s up, and she can walk.”
’BEST IN THE WORLD’
Eric, the shop foreman and mechanic at Champlain Peterbuilt, was the youngest of six.
Family members gathered at his home in Altona Wednesday afternoon to share stories, support each other and remember him.
His fiancee, Gladys Daniels, was among them. Eric proposed to her in early September, and their wedding date was set for April of next year, days away from the two-year anniversary of when they first met.
“He was the best in the world that anybody could want as a husband,” she said in a phone interview. “Just the most amazing man I ever met in my life.”
Dennis said Eric couldn’t wait to start a new life with his fiancee. “He was so happy. So looking forward to starting his life again.”
THOUGHTS, PRAYERS, LOVE
There has been an outpouring of support for her and Eric’s family since the accident, Gladys said.
“It’s been nonstop here with people coming in and out with their thoughts and prayers and love for Eric.”
”He had a gift for talking to people. Just bringing joy to different people,” Eric’s brother, Alan, said.
Eric’s personality was balanced with strength and gentleness. And he was never one to put himself first, Dennis said.
Eric would stay by his late wife Norma’s side until the early morning as she went through cancer treatments and would then go off to work without complaint.
And he worked hard. The skilled diesel mechanic would drive all over the North Country, from Champlain to Jay to Tupper Lake, making friends along the way, Gladys said.
Eric joined Champlain EMS so he could give back to those who had done so much for his family, Mary Ellen said.
”He was happier for it,” Alan said.
While driving the ambulance threw many sobering situations his way, Eric was anything but serious.
His humor lit up a room and, when the time came for fun, he was always the life of the party, Mary Ellen said.
Dennis laughed as he remembered Eric dressing up as a hula princess at a social gathering.
As did helping those in need, hobbies in his spare time made him happy.
Even when he wasn’t working, he enjoyed fixing vehicles; John Deere tractors were among his favorites to work on.
Eric once fixed up an old truck that had been sitting in a field for 30 years, Alan said. He also spent time working on an antique John Deere Model AO tractor, Mary Ellen said.
But above all, those close to him remember Eric as a family man who never thought of himself first; he leaves a teenage daughter, McKayla, and a huge and irreplaceable void in his family circle.
”He made everyone feel more important than himself,” Dennis said. “So people wanted to be around him. They loved to be with him.
“He’s the kind of man that you would want to be.”
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