CHATHAM, NJ - Two years ago this month, the life of an 11-year-old Chatham youngster and his family were turned upside down when an out-of-control vehicle struck Michael DiMaggio as he was walking home from school.
The scene of the accident is now marked with a pedestrian bench dedicated by the DiMaggio family to Dr. Al Ritter and his wife, Janis Joseph, who immediately came to his aid and stayed with him on his ride to the hospital. Michael DiMaggio has since recovered from his injuries.
"We have dedicated a bench to both of them on the corner of Main Street and Hillside Avenue, where the accident took place," Nicole DiMaggio, Michael's mother, said. "It is inscribed "Dr. Al Ritter & Janis Joseph, Our Angels Here on Earth" They are indeed angels to Michael and our entire family and it's our privilege to honor them in this small way.'
DiMaggio was struck by a car driven by a man experiencing a medical episode. The accident took place at the Exxon gas station, where DiMaggio was temporarily pinned under the car, suffering injuries to his arm and leg.
"Dr. Al Ritter, an Emergency Room doctor at Morristown Medical Center, and his wife, Janis Joseph, witnessed the accident and were immediately at Michael's side," Nicole DiMaggio said. "Dr. Ritter kept Michael calm and swiftly began administering emergency medical care. Michael told me that he was scared until Dr. Ritter appeared. He asked Dr. Ritter, "Will you stay with me?" And he did. He rode with Michael in the ambulance and saw to it that he received the best possible care when they arrived at the hospital.
"In times of tragedy and trauma they say you should look for the angels, look for the helpers. Dr. Ritter is our angel and we wanted to honor and recognize him not only for what he's done for Michael, but for his lifetime of community service. He has dedicated his entire life to helping others, in Chatham and beyond. I've always believed that light far outweighs darkness in this world, and Dr. Ritter and Janis Joseph are the embodiment of that."