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Special Event

Mayor Rudy Giuliani Honors Police, Firemen and Medical Personnel for Yesterday's Daring Rescue of Children from Icy Pond

Aired January 31, 2001 - 11:31 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now we go to New York City: Mayor Rudy Giuliani honoring a number of firefighters and police officers who have rescued five children out of an icy pond in a Queens park yesterday. Let's go ahead and listen in to the mayor.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK: ... the basketball All-Star Game. So we want to thank them for doing that. I want to commend these police officers and firefighters for their bravery and their teamwork in a most heroic rescue.

I think everyone or most everyone knows about it. These are the police officers and firefighters who rescued the five children after they fell through the ice of Baisley Park pond in Queens yesterday afternoon. Shortly before 5:00 p.m. yesterday, five children, that range in ages from 11 to 14, fell through the ice walking across Baisley Road. Responding to a 911 call from a cell phone, members of the 113th Precinct, Sergeant Matthew McCarthy (ph) and Officer Kevin Gator (ph), were the first police officers on the scene.

Members of Emergency Services Unit Truck 9, which included Sergeant John Bosh (ph) and Officers William Fischer, Michael Lamantia, Michael McNamara, Joseph Richardson, Brian Chefferstein (ph), Phillip Scarongella (ph), Michael Laxton (ph) and James Romonolli (ph), arrived shortly to assist in the rescue. And then members of Engine companies 275 and 302, which included Lieutenant Michael Hardy (ph) and firefighter Jeff Orkolino (ph), as well as members of ladder companies 133 and 135, which included Lieutenant Gregory Perconi (ph), firefighters John Nolan (ph), Nicholas Pesci (ph) and Lieutenant Allen Williams (ph) also arrived on the scene to assist in the rescue.

As police officers in survivor suits made their way to the children and slid a life raft along the ice, firefighters began tying life-saving ropes to trees on shore and removed the ladders from the fire trucks to utilize in the rescue operation. With two children clinging onto the left side of the raft, firefighters and police officers attempted to pull them to safety as quickly as they could, when suddenly the ice underneath gave way, plunging several rescuers into the very, very cold, frigid water.

Using ropes using ropes and latters to pull themselves to safety, the rescuers were able to get out of the water and assist in helping the children out of the pond. This is really a miraculous rescue. The five children were treated at the scene by the FDNY EMS personnel. They were taken to Jamaica Hospital for treatment for hypothermia and exposure. EMS also treated several of the firefighters and police officers, who went to the icy water, for exposure.

And thank goodness that they were there, they were there on time, that they have the professionalism that they have. Otherwise, we would be talking about a terrible tragedy today instead of a great rescue. And this is indicative of how good our police department and our fire department is and how well they work together. And, again, as I mentioned before, Modell's and Amtrak are going to honor these heroes by presenting each police officer and firefighter involved in the rescue with an all-expense-paid trip for four to the NBC All Star Jam Session in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, February 10.

And I want to thank them for this recognition. Now, why don't I give each one of them a certificate of recognition and then have the police commissioner and the fire commissioner say something. And then maybe some of the gentlemen would like to say something, whoever would like to be the spokesman. While we are doing this, you figure out who wants to speak.

(LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI: This is in whatever order it was given to me.

Brian Chefferstein, New York City Police Department, certificate of recognition.

Michael McNamara, New York City Police Department.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.

GIULIANI: James Romonolli, New York City Police Department.

Sergeant Matthew McCarthy, New York City Police Department. Good job.

Kevin Gator, New York City Police Department.

Michael Laxton, New York City Police Department.

Joseph Richardson, New York City Police Department.

He has you so far and 113th Precinct. OK.

Michael Lamantia, New York City Police Department.

And I should tell you what it reads. They all read the same. And it says, in this case: "To Sergeant John Bosh, New York City Police Department, whose courage, heroism and quick action at Baisley pond saved lives and averted a tragedy." And it's signed by the mayor -- John?

(LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And don't forget.

GIULIANI: William Fischer, New York City Police Department.

John Nolan, Ladder Company 133, New York City Fire Department.

Jeff Orkolino, Engine Company 302, New York City Fire Department.

JEFF ORKOLINO, NYC FIRE DEPARTMENT: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.

GIULIANI: Nicholas Pesci, Ladder Company 133, New York City Fire Department.

Lieutenant Michael Hardy, Engine Company 275.

Phillip Scarongella, New York City Police Department.

Lieutenant Gregory Perconi, Ladder Company 133.

And Lieutenant Allen Williams, Ladder Company 135, New York City Fire Department.

Tom, want to say a few words and then...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just -- remarkable I think how lucky the citizens of our city are. When you watch an operation like this where people -- one of the firefighters said to me that when he pulled up and saw all those kids there, all he could think of was his own children. And I am positive that that's the exact same reaction that all the police officers had, all of the firefighters on the scene, and then all the EMTs and paramedics that came to help everybody.

It's just a phenomenal group of people that, when things get really bad and you need help, you couldn't be in better position than to know that these three groups of people are out there trying to help you. And it's a happy ending, which is really -- we were ready for a happy ending. We have had a couple of unhappy ones recently. And I salute everybody that was involved. They did a great job.

(APPLAUSE)

BERNARD KERIK, POLICE COMMISSIONER: I would just want to commend both of the firemen and the policemen for doing an outstanding job. And, you know, as I have gotten around the city and I get to the talk before different community groups, and I talk about the heroism and the courage that city employees exhibit on a daily basis, I often talk about, you know, gunfire or flames coming from the building.

And normally, the reaction is, people run from those incidents. If someone is shooting a gun or if there's a fire in a building, people are running from those incidents. And there's a certain group of people that runs towards the incidents. Yesterday, as you watched the footage of this rescue, one, it was a textbook rescue. I was extremely proud of the -- of our guys, the ESU guys and the firemen as well.

But it was something, that if you watched, it would send chills up your spine -- literally -- to see this rescue and to see what these -- the cops and the firemen were going through trying to get to those kids. Getting them off of the ice was a phenomenal thing. Getting them out of the water was phenomenal. And, again, I would just like to congratulate all of them for a job well done.

And on a personal note, you know, as far as some of these guys from ESU, you know, these -- there's a family of heroes here. Sergeant Bosh's brother was on this job and killed, died on this job. And Police Officer Fischer, some of you may recall, on August 13th was shot in the face, grazed in the face at the Graves End shooting, where four ESU cops were shot and wounded that night. So, you know, he's back to work. He was out on the ice yesterday.

I just want to compliment all of them on a -- really a job very well done. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

KAGAN: We've been listening in on a ceremony in New York City: Mayor Rudy Giuliani honoring firefighters and police officers who rescued five kids yesterday. They were -- the kid were in a park in Queens. And a couple were daring each other to go out on some ice. And a couple fell in. And a couple went after them. And they fell in. Well, you can imagine what happened from there. But all five kids were rescued. And all five are unhurt -- so reasons for smiles and celebration today in New York City.

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