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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
Sir Paul's note to ferry victim
Scenes of mayhem followed the crash
Sir Paul McCartney has sent a message to a man who lost both legs in the New York ferry disaster after learning the victim was named after him.

The musician and his wife were touched by the plight of Paul Esposito, who survived the Staten Island ferry crash last week which killed 10 people.

Mr Esposito's mother had named her son after her favourite Beatle.

The 24-year-old's story came to light after he was reunited with a British nurse who helped save his life.

The message of support from the McCartneys read: "Heather and I were so sorry to hear about your accident but we know that you and others involved in this tragedy will be strong and will recover fully.

"We're sure you will keep your spirits up. Heather and I know you will lead a full and active life, and we both send you our love."

Mr Esposito, a waiter from Staten Island, told the New York Daily News that it was "awesome" to have received the message.

"I'm surprised Paul McCartney had time to take out of his life to show concern for my case. I'm touched that a big celebrity would make time for me," he told the paper.

Sir Paul and Heather Mills-McCartney
The McCartneys were touched by the story of Mr Esposito

His mother Audrey-Jo said she was glad to have named her son after the star.

She said: "Something like that, it makes a big difference. He's a kind man. Please tell Paul McCartney thank you."

At the weekend, Mr Esposito was reunited with Swansea nurse Kerry Griffiths who visited him at the Staten Island University Hospital after hearing an appeal to find her.

She stayed with Mr Esposito after the ferry slammed into a pier, comforting him and stemming the blood flow from his injuries with a belt.

She used her own Gap sweater, which he kept, to cover Mr Esposito's legs.

And she protected his face from debris flung by the strong winds.

Ms Griffiths, who was visiting New York, had been on the ferry to enjoy the views of Manhattan Island.

Help for victims

Doctors said if Mr Esposito had not received medical help from the nurse, he would have become the 11th fatality of the crash.

A further 40 were injured in the disaster, after the ferry with 1,500 people crashed at full speed and concrete pillars tore through the vessel.

Many of the injured lost limbs.

Lady Heather Mills-McCartney, who lost her left leg in a motorcycle accident in 1993 and has since campaigned for the provision of artificial limbs, is working to help the victims.

1. Ferry approaches the St George Ferry Terminal. Witnesses say the boat was travelling faster than normal, and was on an unusual course
2. Ferry hits maintenance pier. Long pilings on the pier tear through the boat's lower deck
3. Ferry is reversed into berth at the terminal; emergency crews arrive to assist the injured

Briton 'saved NYC ferry victim'
17 Oct 03  |  Americas
Witnesses describe ferry panic
16 Oct 03  |  Americas
In pictures: Staten Island ferry accident
16 Oct 03  |  Photo Gallery

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