Steven Linzer, a decorated Nassau County Police Department paramedic who died suddenly last week at the age of 45, was remembered as a wonderful family man and an excellent advanced medical technician.
Linzer, 45, of Levittown, was also a longtime dispatcher for the Long Beach Fire Department and a former volunteer for the Wantagh Fire Department. He died at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola on March 16 from what may have been reportedly a bacterial infection he contracted while on the job.
A county police spokeswoman said Linzer’s death is being investigated as a line-of-duty death. The police department’s Surgeon’s Office is conducting the investigation to determine the exact cause of death, the spokeswoman said.
Linzer joined the Wantagh Fire Department in 1990 and spent 10 years with the department, being assigned first to Engine 2 and then being transferred to Ladder 2.
“He was an excellent medic, which was his profession,” said Harry Loud, a spokesman for the Wantagh Fire Department and a longtime neighbor of Linzer. “He was instrumental in saving many lives during his career.”
Linzer also coached hockey and encouraged many neighborhood kids to participate in the sport, Loud said.
“When he became a coach, so many kids wanted to participate in hockey because he would be their coach,” said Loud.
Felicia Onufrey of Wantagh remembered that Linzer had coached her son Andrew 10 years ago when he was eight. .
“He was my son’s first hockey coach,” she said. “He was very quiet, but there were a lot of people who knew him.”
But primarily he was a family man, doting on his three children, those who knew him said.
“He was a nice, very even-tempered person,” said Long Beach Fire Chief Scott Kemins. “He loved his kids. He always talked about his kids.”
Kemins said he had known Linzer for about 25 years when they worked together at Long Beach Medical Center. Linzer had been with the Long Beach Fire Department for about 23 years, working as a dispatcher.
“He was one of our best dispatchers,” said Kemins, adding that he worked for the department one day a week before he passed away. “He was a former dispatcher supervisor and our senior most dispatcher.”
He said he was shocked when he received an early-morning e-mail last week notifying him of Linzer’s death.
“It’s unfortunate that when you are in the emergency medical field there are risks that you take,” said Kemins. “You are exposed to all sorts of things and people and you have to take as many precautions as possible because the risks are there.”
Loud said he was hoping that the police department’s investigation determines that Linzer’s death was in the line of duty.
“By all means, I would love to see him get line of duty [recognition] because it would provide some [financial] protection for his family,” Loud said.
Loud said Linzer was a good neighbor and he would often watch Linzer’s house when he was away.
“He was a very business-like type person, straight forward,” said Loud. “There was no gray area with him.”
Loud said Linzer didn’t often laugh, but “when you got him going, he had a very hearty and boisterous laugh. It was an infectious laugh with his deep voice.
“He was a good man who died way before his time.”
Linzer was a 17-year-old working as a photographer for the Fire Reporter, a fire department newspaper that was published in Massapequa, when Loud first met him.
He began as a paramedic with the county in November 1994, where he worked until his death. He had received four life-saving awards as a medic, in addition to other meritorious honors.