EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

January 23, 2008

Ex-mayor's cousin hurt in fall from porch; Railing collapsed, dropping him to pavement

HAVERHILL - A cousin of former Mayor James Rurak was seriously injured yesterday after a second-story porch railing he was leaning against collapsed - sending him to the pavement below.



About noon yesterday, Thomas Rurak, 55, of 34 Margin St., was removing items from the second floor of a two-family house he owns at that address in preparation for selling the house, police and witnesses said. It was the same house James Rurak grew up in. James Rurak said he sold the house to his cousin around nine years ago.



Thomas Rurak was standing on a second-floor porch overlooking the front entrance. Witnesses said he was handing bags and boxes of items over the railing to workers from Lazarus House in Lawrence, who were standing on the front walkway below the porch. Rurak was donating furniture and personal belongings to Lazarus House, an organization that helps needy people.



Thomas Rurak's cousin John Masys, 29, who lives across the street at 33 Margin St., said he was looking out his front window when he saw his cousin crash through the porch railing and onto the pavement leading to the front steps of the house. The fall was about 12 feet.



"He was on the balcony with a box, and the railing just broke," Masys said. "I heard him scream."



Emergency workers were called, and they found Rurak on the ground and bleeding from a head injury. Rurak was taken by ambulance to Caritas Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, police said.



Dennis McCarthy, development officer for Lazarus House, said Rurak was trying to do a good thing when the accident occurred.



"I was told he had one item left and that it was very heavy," McCarthy said. "He must have just fallen forward. I hope he's going to be OK."



James Rurak said he tried to visit his cousin at Caritas Holy Family and was told he had been transferred to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where he was in critical condition last night.



"They transferred him to Boston, which is not a good sign," James Rurak said. "This tells me it is very serious."

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