Bouncer dies days after being punched into coma by customer outside Chelsea bar

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Tuesday, January 3, 2023
Bouncer dies days after being punched into coma by customer
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Duane Patterson was working at a bar in Chelsea when he got into a fight with a customer, was punched in the face and died days later. Lucy Yang has more.

CHELSEA, Manhattan (WABC) -- Police released video of the man they believe delivered a punch that ultimately killed a 61-year-old bouncer on Christmas Eve.

Duane Patterson had just arrived at Billy Mark's west bar on the corner of 9th Avenue and West 29th Street in Chelsea, where he worked as a bouncer and helper, but mostly where he was a friend to all.

On Monday evening, Patterson's widow Melissa Buchholz broke her silence.

"He was a witty, beautiful man, beautiful soul, great father. Just a loving great man," Buchholz said.

As the night slid into the early morning hours of Christmas Eve, good cheer and peace were suddenly eclipsed by violence.

The owner of the bar told Eyewitness News reporter Lucy Yang that the assault happened during closing time. All the other customers were peacefully leaving when the attacker tried to come in.

Police believe a man seen in surveillance video punched Patterson in the face, causing the bouncer to fall back and strike his head on the hard pavement below. He never woke up.

Patterson suffered a skull fracture and brain damage. He was in a coma for four days but died from his injuries.

"They couldn't relieve the pressure," Buchholz said. "He couldn't come back to us. He couldn't come out of the coma. It was awful. It was awful."

Patterson served eight years as a staff sergeant in the Air Force. The veteran leaves behind his wife of 26 years, their daughter and countless customers, who are all heartbroken.

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"Duane was a special man," customer John Campbell said. "He had a gift from God to make weird people like me feel comfortable."

A week after the deadly blow, surgeons removed Patterson's organs for donation. His final act of kindness.

"We were able to take his kidneys and liver. So, one kidney went to his sister," Buchholz said.

Police have launched a homicide investigation. No arrests have been made so far.

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