Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Thursday, August 2, 2001
Release #273-01

Contact: Matthew Higgins / Sid Dinsay
View Mayor's
  Tom Antenen (DCPI) 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 yet another air-sea rescue mission yesterday in the waters of Lower New York Harbor. The rescue was carried out in the choppy waters between Sandy Hook, New Jersey and Brooklyn, and was captured in dramatic video shown on local news broadcasts.

"Members of the NYPD have again shown the skill and courage that truly make them New York's Finest," Mayor Giuliani said. "Yesterday's rescue of three men and a child from a capsized boat was carried out successfully -- something the NYPD's Air-Sea Rescue Team and Harbor Launch units are always ready to do thanks to their extensive training and extraordinary teamwork. Rough seas did not deter these officers from saving four lives. I join New Yorkers in thanking them for this unselfish act of heroism."

Commissioner Kerik said, "Once again, NYPD officers have provided a dramatic and heroic reminder of why they are considered the very best when it comes to saving lives. Less than 24 hours after their fellow officers literally pulled three fishermen off of a wave-swept jetty, these heroes were back in the water turning a potential tragedy into a happy ending. I know I'm joined by the entire metropolitan area in applauding these heroes, their skill and the incredible risks they took to save four lives."

Shortly after noon yesterday, the NYPD's Aviation Unit was contacted by an air traffic controller at JFK Airport. The pilot of a small plane had reported a capsized boat in the waters between Sandy Hook, NJ and Brooklyn. The NYPD's Aviation Air-Sea Rescue Team and the Harbor Unit responded to the scene, finding three adults and a ten-year-old child clinging to the underside of an overturned pleasure craft. At approximately 12:15 P.M., Police Officer Frank Pellegrino and Police Officer Kevin Gallagher went into the water and began swimming toward the victims who, at this point, were knocked off the capsized boat by a rogue wave.

At one point during the rescue, another wave slammed into the side of the NYPD Harbor Unit boat, nearly turning it on its side and tossing about the officers aboard. The ship immediately righted itself, and the rescue operation continued. Officers aboard the Air-Sea Rescue helicopter threw down a life raft, and Officer Gallagher assisted two adults and the child onto the raft. A U.S. Coast Guard boat that had also responded to the scene assisted in rescuing the last adult. All four victims were taken to Staten Island unharmed. Police Officer James Arca and Police Officer Karl Zarr of Great Kills Harbor Launch 32 suffered minor injuries, along with Officer Pellegrino, and they were all treated and released from Staten Island University Hospital. The rescue operation was completed within ten minutes.

The Mayor presented Certificates of Recognition to Sgt. Matthew Rowley, the helicopter pilot; P.O. Anthony Spero, the co-pilot; P.O. John Maier & P.O. John Diaz, helicopter crew chiefs; P.O. Frank Pellegrino & P.O. Kevin Gallagher, divers; Lt. Drew Nelson, P.O. John Margaria & P.O. Robert Cooper, Harbor Charlie, Launch 36; P.O. James Arca & P.O. Karl Zarr, Great Kills Harbor, Launch 32; and P.O. Patrick Laskowski, P.O. Jerry Pacella & P.O. Andrew Koehler, Kingsboro Base, Launch 38.