Newark firefighter injured on the job returns home

Posted: Updated:
WEST ORANGE -

A Newark firefighter who was badly injured in the line of duty this past December has returned home.

Paul Leber was released from the Kessler Institute rehabilitation facility in West Orange Thursday afternoon. He received an emotional homecoming from his fellow firefighters.

“To walk out and just to breathe the fresh air and see everybody here is truly amazing,” Leber said. “I didn’t think I was going to be here.”

Leber suffered burns and damaged to his windpipe while fighting a fire at a Newark tire shop on Park Avenue on Dec. 30. He became trapped while firefighters were evacuating.

“He was not breathing. He was on a ventilator,” said his mother Barbara Leber. “I didn’t know if he was going to make it…he’s come such a long way.”

Leber’s finance says that she always believed he would pull through.

“I knew he would be here. He’s a fighter,” Stephanie Puglia said.

Leber, who is a Navy veteran, spent more than a month at the hospital and then at the Kessler Institute recovering. He will continue his recovery from home.

  • New Jersey SlideshowsSlideshowsMore>>

  • Guide: National park sites in the tristate area

    Guide: National park sites in the tristate area

    Statue of LibertyStatue of Liberty

    A guide to the national park sites and trails on Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York City and the Hudson Valley.

    A guide to the national park sites and trails on Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York City and the Hudson Valley.

  • Students organize walkouts over gun violence

    Students organize walkouts over gun violence

    Students from across the country streamed out of their schools on April 20, 2018 in the latest round of gun-control activism following the February shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.Students from across the country streamed out of their schools on April 20, 2018 in the latest round of gun-control activism following the February shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

    Students from across the country streamed out of their schools on April 20, 2018 in the latest round of gun-control activism following the February shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The protests were chosen to line up with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

    Students from across the country streamed out of their schools on April 20, 2018 in the latest round of gun-control activism following the February shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The protests were chosen to line up with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

  • Photos: Devils 2018 playoffs

    Photos: Devils 2018 playoffs

    Wednesday, April 18 2018 5:53 PM EDT2018-04-18 21:53:12 GMT

    A series of photos of the New Jersey Devils in the 2018 NHL playoffs.

    A series of photos of the New Jersey Devils in the 2018 NHL playoffs.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."