Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Wednesday, August 1, 2001
Release #271-01

Contact: Sunny Mindel/ Lynn Rasic
View Mayor's
  Tom Antenen (NYPD) 212-374-6700
Press Conference


Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today joined Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik to honor members of the New York City Police Department responsible for the daring air lift rescue of three fishermen trapped on the Rockaway Point jetty in Breezy Point, Queens yesterday.

"Despite high waves, strong rip tides and windy conditions, these officers worked together to bring three men to safety," Mayor Giuliani said. "Thanks to the teamwork and resourcefulness of these members of the NYPD, a tragedy was averted. Yesterday's rescue mission demonstrates the bravery and commitment of our uniformed personnel to preserving the lives of all New Yorkers."

Police Commissioner Kerik said, "Due to the superb training of these officers, what could have been a tragedy was a text-book example of an Air-Sea Rescue. These officers demonstrated the best of the NYPD with their skill and professionalism. I am happy to join the Mayor and the rest of New York City in cheering these officers for their selfless acts of bravery during this extraordinary rescue."

Shortly after 4:30 PM yesterday, the crew of an FDNY launch spotted three men stranded on the Breezy Point jetty amid pounding waves, and made a report to the NYPD. Within minutes, an NYPD Aviation Air-Sea rescue team and NYPD harbor launch were dispatched to rescue the three men who had ventured out onto the 500-foot jetty to go fishing. Two police officers, Thomas Kelly and John Dalton, dove into the water from the helicopter with life vests to try to swim the three men to the safety of the harbor launch. Detective Alan Kane, using an inflatable boat, tried to assist the divers with a sea rescue. However, the high waves pounded Police Officer Kelly against the jetty rocks, injuring his left knee, and made a water rescue impossible. While Officer Kelly swam to the harbor launch, Officer Dalton led the three men onto the top of a 25-metal light tower at the end of the jetty. Sgt. Kelly Fitzpatrick dislocated his shoulder while helping Officer Kelly board the harbor launch in the heavy surf.

The NYPD Air Sea Rescue 12 helicopter, piloted by Detective James Lagarenne and co-piloted by Lt. Glenn Daley, was steadied in the high winds so that the crew could lower a sling harness to the tower. While Officer Dalton secured each man, one at a time into the harness, Officer Fernando Almeida guided the winch cable and Officer Patrick Corbett kept the harness from being swept away by the waves.

Once the three men were safely on board, the helicopter flew them to shore where they were treated by EMS personnel. The helicopter then returned to the light tower to pick up Officer Dalton.

Officer Kelly was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was treated for a bruised knee. Sergeant Fitzpatrick was also taken to Jamaica Hospital to be treated for a dislocated shoulder.

The Mayor presented certificates of recognition to Detective James Lagarenne, the helicopter pilot; Lt. Glenn Daley, the co-pilot; Police Officer Fernando Almeida, helicopter crew; Police Officer Patrick Corbett, helicopter crew; Police Officer John Dalton, diver; and Police Officer Thomas Kelly, diver. Sgt. Kelly Fitzpatrick and Detective Alan Kane were not present for the press conference, but also received certificates of recognition.