Volunteer firefighter ready to return to work after being stabbed
YORKTOWN - Brian Smolik is ready to return to work - sitting around has never been easy.
That work ethic is what sent him to work with the National Guard and later to the Yorktown Volunteer Fire Department. However, he's been unable to do much of anything since being stabbed.
Smolik was at home spending time with his wife and 16-month-old daughter last week when his pager went off, notifying him of a truck fire in the 400 block of West Sixth Street. When he arrived, a man burning brush, a couch and a city-issued trash bin in front of his home appeared to be trying to stop firefighters from putting out the blaze.
"I thought he had punched me in the stomach," Smolik recalled about the man, Kirk Engle, 35, lunging at him.
It wasn't until he looked at his hands, which were covered in blood, that he knew Engle had stabbed him.
Smolik, who has been with the department for about three years, sustained a 2-inch stab into his lower abdomen.
"I never thought that would happen," Smolik said. "I was shocked."
Engle was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault on a public servant and taken to DeWitt County Jail. He remains in the county jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond.
Smolik, who also works as a corrections officer at the Stevenson Unit in Cuero, said he never thought he'd be attacked for doing his job as a firefighter, joking that if he were ever to get stabbed on the job, he thought it would be at the prison.
Yorktown Volunteer Fire Chief Darryl Borth said Smolik is one of his best men - always the first to respond - and deserves attention for what happened to him.
Smolik, however, doesn't see the interest, saying he is surprised this many people care about him. For him, he said being injured just makes him want to hurry and get back to work.
"This is not something that typically happens here," he said. "It won't make me walk away."
Kristy Smolik said she supports her husband's decision to return to the volunteer fire department. While she said she doesn't understand what kind of person would stab a firefighter, she's relieved her husband is recovering.
Neither said they were worried or interested in the criminal case against Engle.
While under arrest, Engle told officers he intentionally set the fire with the hopes of stabbing the Yorktown Police Chief Paul Campos because he wanted to return to jail.
The criminal case remains under investigation, officer Josh Serbin said.
"I'm not really upset with anybody," Smolik said. "The way I see it is that he could have done something else if he wanted to go to jail. We weren't there to tell him that he can't set his stuff on fire. We were there to do our job and put the fire out."