Jamil Almansouri, 59, was already fighting for his life in the back of a speeding ambulance Thursday morning while en route to Brooklyn’s Woodhull Medical Center after suffering an apparent heart attack. Any chance of survival ended, however, just about two blocks from the emergency room.
The beloved bodega owner and Yemeni immigrant died after the FDNY ambulance he was riding in with his sister was broadsided by a speeding firetruck at the corner of Myrtle and Throop Avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant. His sister, Ganna Ahmad, 35, was critically injured and left in a coma; two EMTs on board the ambulance, and several firefighters and motorists involved in the wreck, were also injured.
Candles were already gathered outside Almansouri’s Bed-Stuy home Thursday afternoon by friends and family who affectionately called him “Mike.” He lived in a three-story building above Mike’s Deli on Throop Avenue, the bodega that he owned.
His friend Ghost lit a candle earlier for his friend, remembering him as someone he could depend on as a friend for more than 25 years.
“Mike was a good dude – like a pillar to the community,” he said. “When things got rough, you went to Mikey O. We were all shocked, and yes, he was sick already, but we didn’t want him to go out like. I was sitting here in my car when the ambulance took off and a few minutes later, all the cops were converging on the location with all the sirens. Only when people came out this morning, did we know he was involved. He was a great loss to us.”
“He was one of my best friends for 36 years,” said Ned Robin, who sat next to the candles lit for his friend. “He would do anything for his friends. I can’t believe he died. He watched a lot of kids grow up here – his family is really crushed.”
Aljarah Mohammed, nephew of Almansouri, was working in a deli on Van Buren Street, only three blocks from his uncle’s bodega. He said his uncle has been in this country for nearly 40 years and “loved this country.”
“He was so sick and then they came to emergency, the [truck] for the fire, they finished him,” Mohammed said. “They lied and said he died in car before the crash, but he was on the phone and was okay. My auntie, is now between life and death. She was on the phone with her husband, he was Face-timing with her and then all of a sudden, ‘Hello hello,’ nobody answer. But it is not true that he was already dead.”
He said his uncle was loved in the community.
“Just ask the people who come to his store – he was always helping people and everyone loved him,” he sighed.
His family had rushed in a cab to the hospital to be there for Almansouri, but he was already dead by the time Almansouri arrived in a different ambulance. His sister, family members said, suffered a broken back, fractured hands and legs, and her teeth were knocked out.