New York police report details Bridgeport firefighter’s death in escalation

Photo by Tara O'Neill

A police report from the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office in New York said Stephen Buda had reached about 150 to 175 feet from the approximately 200-foot section of the climb when he fell, suffering fatal injuries on the Monday, September 6, 2021.

Bridgeport FD / Contribution

BRIDGEPORT – A city firefighter who died of injuries sustained during an escalation in New York on Monday afternoon had almost reached the 200-foot mark of his ascent when he fell, authorities said.

The Ulster County Sheriff’s Office said in a report that police and medics responded to 3650 Route 44/55 in Gardiner, NY, to a 911 call regarding a fallen climber. The report identified the individual as 56-year-old New Haven resident Stephen M. Buda III.

Authorities said the preliminary investigation, which included testimony, suggested Buda was climbing at a popular spot in the Trapps Bridge section of the Mohonk Reservation. They said he appeared to have reached about 150 to 175 feet from the about 200 foot section of the climb when he fell. The report said Buda was not wearing any climbing or safety gear at the time.

The Bridgeport Fire Department announced Buda’s death on Tuesday, adding that he leaves behind a wife and two children.

Buda, a pump engineer for the city’s fire department, was hired in August 2013. The department said rock climbing was Buda’s favorite pastime.