Hill barber receives outpouring of support after on-the-job accident

An on-the-job accident two weeks ago proved nearly tragic for Beacon Hill barber Stephen Silva, but the outpouring of support he has received since then has come as a reaffirming reminder of just how compassionate people can be.

“People have been amazing,” said Silva, who has worked at Boston Barber Co.’s Bowdoin Street location for the past four years, from his Wilmington on Saturday, Feb. 20, just hours after he was released from Mass General Hospital. “I’m just grateful for what everyone has done for me. I wasn’t expecting any of this. “

On Friday, Feb. 12 at around 1:30 p.m., Silva was cutting a customer’s hair at the Beacon Hill barbershop when he lost his footing and plunged straight into a pair of scissors. His coworkers reached out to the owner, Robert Del Russo, who was working at the North End location, and who instructed them to lay Silva down; to apply pressure to his wound; and to call 9-1-1 and wait for an ambulance to arrive.

“I was just lucky I was saved by my coworkers, and they looked out for me,” Silva said. “I have a great family at work.

They’re great people, and they absolutely saved my life.”

Boston Police and paramedics were on the scene in minutes. Silva and Del Russo both said the call was likely expedited since Boston Police logged it in as a stabbing, rather than as a workplace accident, giving it greater priority.

“If it was called in as a freak accident, the police wouldn’t have responded as fast – they were there, in like, two minutes,” Del Russo said, “It was the craziest freak accident I could ever imagine as far as barbering goes. [Silva] literally had a better chance of getting hit by a bolt of lightning.’

When police arrived on the scene, however, they were convinced the barbershop was a crime scene and wouldn’t allow employees to wipe Silva’s blood off the floor.

“They were trying to clean up the blood on the floor, but the police wouldn’t let them because it was still a crime scene and they didn’t believe the story,” Del Russo said. “Thank God we had the surveillance video to show them what happened.”

Silva has been a good sport about it all, though, said Del Russo, and has even taken to calling himself the “Beacon Hill Klutz,” although Del Russo prefers another moniker for him – “Stabbin’ Steve.”

Del Russo has been “very supportive,” Silva said, checking up on him every day and encouraging him to take as much time as he needs to make a full recovery

Silva, who punctured an artery in his heart, was taken to Mass General, and underwent open-heart surgery, but as a testament to both his resilience, as well as to MGH’s highly skilled surgeons, his stay at the hospital lasted just over one week. 

“I’m still having issues with breathing, and I can’t lift over a gallon of milk,” Silva said Saturday. “I can’t open and close doors. I can’t raise both hands over my head [simultaneously].”

His recovery is expected to take between six and eight weeks while the bone heals, and although physical therapy won’t be part of his recovery regimen, several physical therapist he’s never met before have reached out to offer their services to him pro bono.

Attorneys, also strangers, have contacted Silva to offer free legal assistance with any workman’s compensation claims, and fellow barbers from as far away as Thailand and South America have heard Silva’s story and reached out to him as well, he said.

Some strangers even began checking on Silva on a daily basis, including some who don’t speak English and instead rely on translators to facilitate their conversations with him. “I’ve talked to some amazing people I’ve never met before,” Silva said.

After hearing about his accident, BaByliss, a manufacturer of professional hair tools, even sent Silva a complete kit, including a pair clippers, a trimmer and a magnetic mat – “the whole nine yards,” he said.

Hattori Hanzo, which made the scissors involved in Silva’s accident, also sent him a care package.

Silva added, “I’m grateful for everyone on Beacon Hill. All the businesses, the State House Ashburton Place and neighbors, too, have all come by [both of the barbershop’s locations] to make sure I’m okay and drop off packages and money.”

In addition, Silva’s girlfriend, with help from other friends of his, set up a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign with a goal of $40,000, which was expected to be just enough to cover his cost of living during his convalescence. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had raised nearly $32,000.

While Silva has health insurance, he worries that his hospital bill could set him back an exorbitant sum. 

“It could be like $60,000, and I could be out of work six months – I don’t know,” Silva said. “I’ll be out of work for at least six to eight weeks and hopefully not any more [than that], and when I come back, I don’t know if it’ll be full time.” 

But despite this major setback, the experience has made Silva see and truly appreciate the innate kindness in others.

“I wish no one had to donate, and that it never happened,” he said, “but at the same time, people are reaching out to me, and it’s good to see there are good people out there.”

Visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/stephen-silva to contribute to the GoFundMe campaign for Stephen Silva.

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