STATEN ISLAND — A National Guardsman, who was awarded a Bronze Star for helping soldiers wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq, died Saturday after he crashed his van head-on into an MTA bus a day before, police said.
Marcus Brown, 33, of Bulls Head, was speeding on Arthur Kill Road, near Johnson Street, when he lost control of his van and crashed into the bus driving the opposite direction about 7 a.m. Friday, the NYPD said.
Officers found him unconscious with internal injuries and trauma to his legs and he was taken to Staten Island University Hospital North where he died Saturday, authorities said.
The 42-year-old bus driver and two male passengers, 23 and 35, were all taken to the same hospital with minor injuries, officials said.
Family remembered Brown as the life of the party who enjoyed a good cigar and cheering for New York sports teams.
"Even if you weren't a part of the party he tried to make you a part," said his cousin Ade McGirt, 40. "Getting everybody involved, getting everybody to smile. He lit up the room."
Brown was a National Guardsman who served in Iraq.
He was awarded a Bronze Star in 2008 after the battalion he was in was struck by a roadside bomb, McGirt said.
Brown was one of the only people who survived and tried to save the lives of his fellow soldiers after the blast.
McGirt said Brown was "the protector" of his family who took care of them.
"The reality still hasn't sunk," said McGirt. "It's hard to believe. It's something that you don't really expect to happen to somebody that you care about."