VIDEO: Fair Lawn Policemen Honored
P.O. Kenneth Cavanagh and Sgt. Michael Messina received Meritorious Service Awards at the 200 Club's 25th Annual Valor Awards. Last September, both were struck by the car of Priscilla Coleman.
Fair Lawn Sgt. Michael Messina and Officer Kenneth Cavanagh were among 24 members of local fire departments, police departments and EMTs honored Wednesday at the Bergen County 200 Club's 25th annual Valor Awards.
"This is probably one of the best days of the year for me as the emcee of the event," said Jack Terhune, president of the 200 Club. "We have the opportunity to recognize the efforts that are made 365 days a year by these men and women."
Last September, Messina responded to Walgreen's on River Road after a report that Cyrinthia Marlin, 30, of Newark, was attempting to pass a fake prescription for Oxycodone. He identified Marlin and followed her to the parking lot, where she got into a car driven by Priscilla Coleman, 31, of Newark, and attempted to flee. Cavanagh was on scene for another call and tried to assist, but was knocked to the ground and almost run over by Coleman. Messina fired two shots before he was struck by the car and thrown over the hood. Witnesses gave a description of the vehicle and the driver and passenger were found and charged with attempted murder, along with several other charges.
The top honor, the Valor Award, was given to Paramus Police Officers Rachel Morgan and Ryan Hayo for their bravery during a shootout in February 2011 on Super Bowl Sunday.
Morgan stopped Michael Carmody on Route 17, but he sped away and she gave chase. After he spun out on the entrance ramp to the Garden State Parkway, he shot Morgan multiple times with a 9mm handgun when she approached his car. She returned fire as did her back up, Hayo. Carmody died several days later. Morgan was in a coma for four days but is pursuing aggressive physical therapy so that she can return to active duty, recently re-qualifying on her firearm.
The Meritorious Service Award was given to 16 police and fire officers as well as local EMTs. Here are the honorees other than Messina and Cavanagh:
Ptl. John Sanzari & Ptl. Dominick Parillo -- Carlstadt Police Department
Both officers were honored for their bravery in responding to a theft in progress at a perfume warehouse where multiple employees had been held hostage at gunpoint. The officers apprehended two of the suspects, one of whom broke Parillo's jaw when he grabbed his flashlight and used it against him. "Ultimately, five suspects were identified, tried and convicted of multiple counts of armed robbery," said the 200 Club. "Regrettably, several of the suspects were identified as police officers" from New York.
P.O. Kevin Felten -- East Rutherford Police Department
Felten made his way to the third floor of a burning building and rescued a resident who was almost ready to jump out of the window to escape the blaze. He suffered burns and smoke inhalation during the rescue and the resident suffered burns on his face and upper body.
Deputy Chief Fred Longobardi, Lt. Richard Katz & F.F. Michael Oates -- Hackensack Fire Department
These men rescued a man from a vehicle that was on fire in July 2010. "The victim was removed to safety with no burns but sustained smoke inhalation," according to the 200 Club.
Det. John Dalton -- Hackensack Police Department
Dalton observed a car with tinted windows and pulled alongside, shining his flashlight and as he exited his car, the driver rolled up his window and "made a sudden movement to the floor of the vehicle," according to the 200 Club. Dalton was able to remove a backpack from the vehicle which contained a handgun with dried blood on it--a second handgun was also found in the car and both were fully loaded. Both the driver and passenger were charged with "numerous" weapons and drug violations.
Chief Vincent St. Angelo & Ptl. Michael Graham -- Northvale Police Department
In a touching presentation, the four family members these officers saved presented them with their awards. Both the chief and officer responded to a house which turned out to have deadly levels of carbon monoxide. A mother and her three children were saved that day due to their efforts. An acceptable CO reading is 10 parts per million--this residence had 800 ppm which is considered lethal.
Trooper Joshua Coppola, HUMC EMTs Gregory Foley, David Kaczor & HUMC MICP Sean Scott and William Werner
These honorees were dispatched to a motor vehicle accident on Rt. 80 where they discovered the driver had suffered a traumatic injury after an object came through the windshield and tore through the jugular vein and the corotid artery of a New York State Police Officer on his way to work. Due to their heroic efforts, he is alive and well and back on duty.
The Distinguished Service Award was presented to five different police officers from four different departments:
Lt. Patrick Kissane & Det. Philip Ross -- Fort Lee Police Department
Both officers were recognized for their work in May 2010, when they were able to stop a 13-year-old from attempting to commit suicide on the roof of a 32-story apartment building. "When officers approached him, he instantly ran to the edge of the roof and jumped over a safety railing to a balcony below," according to the 200 Club program. "After an emotional and stressful time, Kissane was finally able to convince the youth to move away from the railing where he was safely apprehended by both officers and taken into protective custody."
Sgt. Scott Tesser -- Teaneck Police Department
In November 2010, Tesser was dispatched to the home of a suicidal woman who was four months pregnant and could only speak Spanish. She was clutching a pair of scissors which she would not put down. While a fellow officer made a noise to distract her, Tesser successfully took the scissors from her and along with other officers was eventually able to subdue her and take her to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment.
Police Officer Peter Bongiovanni -- South Hackensack Police Department & Patrol Officer John Clark -- Little Ferry Police Department
Bongiovanni, who is now an officer with the Bergen County Police, observed smoke coming from the westbound side of Rt. 46 in Little Ferry while on patrol in January 2010. He arrived at the source of the smoke, a Little Ferry spa which was on fire, at the same time as Clark. They both grabbed towels to shield themselves from smoke inhalation and successfully evacuated all patrons and employees--the fire continued to burn for another nine hours as many departments battled the blaze.
Retired Fire Chief Thomas Cusker of the Palisade Park Fire Department received the John R. Rinaldi Award for his "outstanding service and dedication to an individual or group" for his work with not only his own fire department but with the Bergen County Fire Chiefs Association.
"The men and women we recognize today are the best of the best and they have gone the extra mile to serve Bergen County," said Terhune.